On the 11th of September 2001, Claire is at school, Peter is skipping study hall and Jasper is fast asleep at home.
None of them are close. Claire knows Peter from school. Peter met Jasper at a party and they arranged to go out on the 11th.
Then everything changes and none of them quite know what to do or how to be. Tragedy hovers over them all but there is something else that envelops them and gives them hope.
There is something stark about the way this book is written that affected me from the beginning.
The author doesn't attempt to capture the suffering and loss of everyone who was affected by 9/11 but gives us an insight into these three young individuals and how they survive the moment and the days, weeks and months that came afterwards…but in doing so I could sense just how much the world was affected, each person in their own way.
I was eleven years old on 9/11, on the other side of the world in New Zealand, where it was already the 12th of September. I woke up and instantly flopped down on the couch, willing sleep to claim me again. My parents had been up since the early hours. I remember sitting with the two form 1 and 2 classes at my school, watching the coverage on TV.
The events of 9/11 impacted the world but I had no real insight into what it was like to have been amongst it all. In New York, where I had my earliest memories. In Manhattan, where I now live.
David Levithan has written a novel where the emotion is not forced but encircles you. Just reading about the way these three individuals' lives changed, in the way they perceived the world and themselves, was so moving. The helplessness they felt, trying to do something, whether it was the desperation to light candles in the rain or the inability to donate blood in the crisis, was so real to me.
This is more than a work of fiction because it expresses human nature in such a poignant way. 9/11 brought on a wave of fear but the amazing thing – that is so well portrayed in this novel – was the way that people came together.
'Love is the Higher Law' isn't a novel about misery. It is about hope and loss, of moving forward and embracing the moment. It is about Before and After and Now and they way we choose to live our lives – in fear or in love.
This is a novel that has captured and inspired me. It has impacted me in a way that isn't forceful but is so very powerful.
One of the best books I have read all year. I recommend it to anyone who wishes to read a first-rate book about the strength of humanity in the face of devastation.