“This short novel perfectly captures the post-9/11 world without dramatizing or politicizing the event. Levithan focuses on the confusion and pain which led to unity and healing. The rotating, intertwining narratives of the three teenagers effectively convey emotions which cannot be understood. The youth of the narrators allows for a certain naiveté and hope in the face of great tragedy. There was a lack of anger and blame throughout the novel, as Levithan moved toward the more effective practice of healing. None of the characters suffered a direct loss as a result of the attacks- their families remained whole. This allowed for the novel to capture what most Americans felt in the direct aftermath: a great loss borne not of personal tragedy but something greater, the loss of something inexplicable. The book did not focus on the struggle to heal a splintered family unit, but to heal a nation torn apart and brought together. As Claire, Jasper and Peter wander around New York City, trying to find that which they have lost, they turn to music and friends to make sense of their emotions. In the novel, Claire is especially affected by the events. She possesses a particular wisdom, opposing the war and seeking for the continuation of love and unity. She points out when the flags that decorate every doorstep lose their community and become weapons of war. Jasper is depressed and pessimistic, sabotaging all of his interpersonal relationships, until he meets Claire and is shown another way of living. Peter turns to music, having a nearly spiritual moment of healing at a rock concert, and latching on to significant lyrics to explain and understand life after. The three distinct characters all represent a true teenage experience, and realistic routes of catharsis. The book is a portrait of the moments after September 11, 2001, highlighting the power of love in response to terror. Rarely depressing and often humorous and uplifting, the book is powerful and prescient. Levithan artfully, and with near flawlessness puts the inexplicable into words in Love is the Higher Law.”
Lydia Page wrote this review Sunday, January 22, 2012.