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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027

Love Is the Higher Law

Love Is the Higher Law - Only someone like David Levithan could write a book about 9/11 and manage to hit me with the Sledgehammer of the Feels. It’s not to belittle the day nor what happened, but let’s be fair here—9/11 has been used as a cheap emotional plot point, or it could be taken that way in the eyes of some critics. Anyone of my generation knows exactly where they were and what they were doing when it happened. (HS sophomore ceramics class, second period.) And as current events have shown, every September someone’s going to pick off the scab and all the emotional wounds come pouring out again. So yes, I was a bit skeptical going into this book. (I picked it up because I was on a post- Every Day high and it was at the used book store.) Not because I thought that Levithan would go for cheap emotional responses, but more due to my own jaded feelings on the subject. Here’s the thing that I love about Levithan’s work—his human connections feel genuine. While there may be complicated circumstances to throw two characters in the same room together, it never feels forced. And neither does the connection. A lesser writer would have forced the three main characters to cross paths repeatedly. Or have made it more obvious that these three have met. But the great thing about Jasper, Claire and Peter is that they’re already somewhat mutual friends, but they’re not that close. And what does eventually bring them together isn’t specifically 9/11, but rather through reaching out to the people that they already knew. It’s one of the strongest aspects of the book as a whole, I liked that Levithan highlights this friendship growing stronger because of Claire finding solace in her friends. The idea of human connection isn’t due to grand circumstances or random encounters (even though how Jasper and Peter initially meet is due to a random encounter, but it’s never played up in text), it’s making those connections stronger.And everyone’s feelings feel genuine as well. I hate to keep bringing it up and treating it like “Nobody ever could write a genuine realistic feelings and emotions in any book about Huge Recent Historical Events”…but it does feel more real and emotional here. I don’t harp on Claire for being so scared and feeling so alone as she walks the city at night. I don’t hate Jasper for feeling indifferent and trying to come off as sarcastic about everything. They feel human. It feels real. It’s recognizing the fact that not everyone is going to have identical responses to the same event. I love that Jasper feels tempted to ask a cab driver if it gets any easier to hear passengers say how things look so different now. It’s not Jasper being flippant, it’s something that I think someone would think—maybe not always right after it happened, but eventually. I do have a bias towards Peter, mainly because of the fact that he’s a music geek. And specifically, that he uses music to help and ease his own thoughts and feelings about 9/11. I love that it opens with him going to get a Bob Dylan album—and there’s a later detail that someone eventually buys it for him—and that thread of music keeps occurring throughout his narration. I loved the parallels of the two concert scenes in his narration; the quiet affirmation of the Next show that everything is going to be okay again one day and the huge anthemic reprise at the U2 show at the start of the final third. (Oh, and fail on me for not realizing that the title of the book is from “One.” )(Personal anecdote tangent time: when I was reading the U2 scene in particular, hand to God, my iPod decides to throw up “Walk On.” I kinda stared at it for a moment and just went NOPE. NOPE. I DON’T NEED THE EMOTIONS RIGHT NOW and switched the song.) It’s a book with a very thin plot, and it’s outright stated in the author’s note that this is Levithan’s way of working out what he was feeling on 9/11 and for the months afterward. But it doesn’t feel like he’s dumping HERE HAVE ALL OF MY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS AND DISCUSS on to the reader. And I think the title sums it up beautifully—love is such a higher law, that it will always transcend hate (mainly by taking the lyric out of context; I forgive Levithan for it though because it’s a great point on his part). I love that we get to see Jasper and Peter’s relationship evolve throughout the book, from “random acquaintances with a kick-ass mutual friend” to “let’s try again and see if we don’t work.” (Oh, the emails. My heart.) And Claire never really feels regulated to the side for being a third wheel or the standard gay guy’s chick friend. (I actually really like her and Peter’s friendship.) I really liked that we get to see the year through their lives between the anniversaries, and that while the day is always going to be there in the back of their minds, 9/11 doesn’t dictate everything that these three do with their lives.It’s worth a read, yes. I don’t know if I’d put as a “You HAVE to read this book RIGHT NOW,” but it’s a definite read. As I said, I personally picked it up because “Oh hey, David Levithan book I haven’t seen cool.” But I do recognize the issues with the subject matter and that some people may not be as willing to jump into this book as I was. So…I guess it would have to be, if you’re interested do; if not, well, try to give a shot sometime and see if you like it. From what I’ve read so far of Levithan’s books, his works are always worth a read, but I do realize that not everyone will think the same.