Love is the Higher Law | Review

*bit of a long post*

Love is the Higher Law | Available for Purchase: Amazon.com « Barnes & Noble « Book Depository
Author: David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 25, 2009
Pages: 176 pages, hardcover
Received Copy: Paperback copy, also signed by author

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

First there is a Before, and then there is an After. . . .

The lives of three teens—Claire, Jasper, and Peter—are altered forever on September 11, 2001. Claire, a high school junior, has to get to her younger brother in his classroom. Jasper, a college sophomore from Brooklyn, wakes to his parents’ frantic calls from Korea, wondering if he’s okay. Peter, a classmate of Claire’s, has to make his way back to school as everything happens around him.

Here are three teens whose intertwining lives are reshaped by this catastrophic event. As each gets to know the other, their moments become wound around each other’s in a way that leads to new understandings, new friendships, and new levels of awareness for the world around them and the people close by.

David Levithan has written a novel of loss and grief, but also one of hope and redemption as his characters slowly learn to move forward in their lives, despite being changed forever.

Just last weekend marked the 15th year anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the United States in: New York City, Washington, DC, and Shanksville, PA. I was invited to meet with a friend on the 9/11 date to spend two days in New York City and in doing so I decided to finally read David’s novel. I bought Love is the Higher Law few years ago when he did an author visit at a local bookstore. It was right near the anniversary and he explained some of the sights he witnessed and also notes this at the end of the book. I thought it was most appropriate reading on the day we remember all of the lives lost, innocent and the brave ones who died saving others.

I read the book on the train, well what I could–there were some loud talkers who ended up breaking my concentration from time to time and I also went in and out of periods where I was overwhelmed with emotion and kept tearing up. I was in high school so I remember more vividly than others who might’ve been younger at the time and also living in New Jersey which wasn’t as far away from NYC as opposed to where I live now. While reading Love is the Higher Law I could relate on various levels of the characters in their feelings, even though I wasn’t a New Yorker or someone extremely close to the situation, that day left a mark on everybody who was able to witness it.

Claire, Jasper, and Peter are coming from different viewpoints on this tragic day–Claire at school Uptown, worried about her younger brother, and getting word from their mother. Jasper has slept through the entire morning in Brooklyn only to be awoken by a phone call from his parents in South Korea to hear of the news, and Peter who skipped school to hang out at a record store and see the effects from Midtown. All present at a party a few nights before, they’re all thrown into the mix Claire and Jasper meeting just by chance, developing a friendship with him and eventually Peter who is a fellow senior such as herself. Peter and Jasper who were supposed to have their first date September 11th, but the day postpones things giving a bad vibe on their meeting. Looking at the devastation and destruction these characters start looking at their lives in a new perspective and realizing they don’t exactly understand what’s happened but know they are forever changed. Thinking deeply, caring more, and an array of emotions helps shape their lives now.

It’s a short read and it’s really interesting from a YA point of view–a time when teens already have so many emotions, to put this new level upon them having the characters examine their lives. I might read it again next year on the date, haven’t decided but I’m glad I have it on my shelf because I haven’t seen a lot of books on the subject like David notes in his final acknowledgements in the back of the book. And again, as someone who was a bit younger than the main characters but still able to witness the impact of that day is really fascinating to read.

The picture above does no justice on how truly amazing this sight was to see in person. The overwhelming emotion of patriotism, love, sadness, anger, and sorrow you have looking at the new skyline and the lights that shine brightly for not only all of the victims but the loss of the buildings which represented a part of the city as well. The sun set beautifully that night and my friend and I watched the sky turn from bright reds, to cotton candy pinks and blues, to a dusty gray, to finally the darkest black to show the twin lights.


I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this on social media at some point, but I’m sharing it again:

For the life of me I can’t remember my first period schedule but, it was our first year using a type of blocking scheduling at our high school. Day Whichever had XXX class first period (driving me crazy I can’t remember), then Driver’s Ed with Mrs. Collura who was BFFs with my English teacher Mrs. Hults–their classrooms were next door to each others, and third period was French II with Madame Cardell…ugh! She was such a useless teacher. I’m getting off topic but I had to set the scene. We started early at my high school, morning bell was at 735am, and classes started 750ish, so I was already a quarter to halfway done with second period.

Mrs. Hults called on our phone system to Mrs. Collura to turn on the news. Most classrooms did have TVs, albeit not modern but would work well enough, and when she did, I believe both towers had been struck by the planes at that point. Either it was just the one, or the second happened in moments that I wasn’t paying attention because I kept thinking ‘Wow, this is just like a movie!’ Not looking at the severity of it nor the sheer magnitude of what happened. Mrs. Collura told us we were probably witnessing history, little did she know how right she would be. Those moments watching the towers burn are forever engrained into my brain. At that point, class ends and it seemed determined by staff that we really shouldn’t be watching the television and try to get back to our classes but within the switch from Driver’s Ed to French, word around school was that the Pentagon had been hit by a plane as well. We watched a little of the coverage, I honestly don’t remember the towers falling or if I watched it live. I think at that point we weren’t allowed to know much else as students but I started going into panic mode.

Before French ended I gathered up two quarters so I could call my mom. With the knowledge I have of Philadelphia now that I live so close and actually working in Center City, I understand the layout and the surrounding towns. I didn’t realize back then that my sister’s attendance at St. Joseph’s University isn’t near the heart of Philadelphia if damage was done but at that time, you honestly didn’t know which piece of news you would hear next. We could all agree that this day, destroying those buildings had a huge impact on markets and big businesses who set up shop in those towers. My dad worked in the financial industry at the time and would seldom have to take the PATH train in right underneath the towers. I never really knew whether or not he would have to go to New York or not until after the fact and he came home after his day. Needless to say I ran to the payphone at school and was able to get a hold of my mom who told me my father wasn’t in NYC today, and my sister should be fine, no reports in Philly so she’s relatively safe.

The weirdest part of that day was hearing some surrounding schools were dismissing kids early. As millennials do, we were sorely disappointed our school wasn’t one of them. The rest of the school day was a blur, everyone and their mother tried to teach us when all we could do is discuss the morning and if there were other revelations we hadn’t heard about. Some kids were called to report to the office over the loud speaker having us all look at each other and morbidly wonder what had happened. A lot of classmates had parents who worked in NY/NJ right where everything happened and you could only imagine.

My neighborhood was next to the high school and I remember walking home, turning on the television seeing every station was reporting the coverage–Nickelodeon, MTV, local news stations, etc. all broadcasting. I came home exhausted and fell asleep listening to the news; I just couldn’t take it. The anxiety for everyone, the anxiety for the people I knew hoping they were okay, the country, the tears I shed when I came home. What’s pretty crazy is my mom would always tape her soap operas on the VCR when she worked. Guiding Light on CBS at 10am, Days of Our Lives on at 1pm on NBC, she recorded a bunch of the coverage that I still have the VHS tape recording history live on TV.

The next year, a family friend and native New Yorker took my sister and I on a day trip to the city. We walked by Ground Zero and the enormous holes in the ground just left you speechless. The construction going on to rebuild, the Missing people’s pictures up and American flags everywhere was a sight to see. Not only that but it was quiet–just so very quiet for the city that never sleeps.

 

That was my day, my recollection of September 11th, 2001. Parts of it mirror what Claire, Jasper, and Peter experienced that day. Obviously on a more emotional level as I didn’t live as close as they did, but the perspective is there for sure. To learn more information on the events & to donate, check out the 9/11 Memorial website http://www.911memorial.org

Top Ten Tuesday: Rough Reads edition


September 30: Top Ten Books That Were Hard For Me To Read (because difficult of book, subject matter, because it was cringeworthy– however you want to interpret), the weekly topic provided by The Broke & Bookish

Throughout my years of reading, I have noticed there are a few areas and subject matters that just really either hit home or I just get so enthralled in the story line that the characters’ feelings transfer into my own and I can read things so personally. My hard limits are usually best friends falling out/betrayal, lying on a big, grand scale/question of morality, and most importantly: bullying/neglecting others. Reading these topics can typically rock me to my core because I’ve either experienced these topics or I feel morally obligated to fight for these non-existent characters. They’re not real, but when I read the words that make these story lines come alive, I feel like I need to be on their team, on their side.

Here are some of my rough reads…even to think about some of these titles get me going, LOL!

Each of these titles had friendships rocked to the core and having been in similar situations, there’s nothing worse then giving your trust to someone and having things thrown in your face. Backstabbing. Severed ties. Bridges never mended.


There is nothing more that I hate, than a group of individuals who think they need to make up the rules of exclusivity. I’ve been a victim of it, I still witness it in current friendships and it’s really the saddest thing. Seeing someone stoop so low to keep control of a group of people because they have “influence” which is nothing more than mean-ness or low self-esteem. It irks me in real life and on the pages I read.

 

Just as much as the mean girl behavior gets me going, bullying is just plain unacceptable. Feeling the need to belittle someone for reasons you deem the sense of entitlement over another is pretty despicable. Especially those who are just their own different self. Those you are quiet. Those whom keep to themselves. Those who don’t wear the “right” clothes. Those who may have a different skin color. Those who are a different kind of popular than the clichéd expected cookie-cutter mold. People who are individuals for themselves scare those who like to conform and it’s just pathetic to see and I want nothing more than to help those. **Note that these titles actually deal with legitimate suicide or suicidal thoughts….as you can imagine, bullying is the root of the evil of thinking death is a better way out then to deal with the incessant torture. That’s how severe this behavior can be…pick up a newspaper you’ll see the real life repercussions.

 

So yes I actually have nine titles and not 10 but I put these two books (which makes the grand total of 11 titles) were hard books because of the overall heighten stages of these books:

Heir of Fire because you find out how MORE EFFED UP THE KING IS, meanwhile SO much shit goes down I just….my emotions were RAGING, literally at almost every character for what they had been put through…oh god, I have to stop because I can’t let my mind go back there again

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, again, because this book is EPIC. Like, battles everywhere, people good and bad just perishing and fighting evil in the face…there’s just a BUNCH of drama that makes you need to put the book down, but keep on reading, and then put the book down so you can grab a box of tissues because you will cry your eyes out for the last 200 or so pages of this series. It’s the finale of all finales. It’s a tough read, why? Because childhoods end. A story world created a magical place that has to now come to a close even though it breaks your heart to let it go on without you.

 

What are some of the titles that were difficult to read through? A few of these books aren’t even on my shelves anymore, that’s how much of a tough time I had reading them.

 

Until next time, Linz aka The Kid 🙂

 

*images not mine–no copyright infringement intended 

Fault Line: Review (book club pick)

Where to even begin with this one….okay here goes:

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Fault Line
Author: C. Desir
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: 2012
Pages: 226, Hardcover
Received Copy: friend loan

For January’s book club pick we chose Fault Line by C. Desir. Now going into reading this I already knew what to expect. I had read a blog post late last year that was tweeted out and decided to read up on it. Fault Line’s subject matter is a stressful topic to tackle, to talk about, think about, and let alone WRITE about it but sometimes that can be cathartic.

The story is told through Ben’s eyes, soon to be & then becomes boyfriend to Ani, the new girl in town who’s pretty spunky and down to earth. Not afraid to be herself and speak her mind. Until a few months into the relationship something goes down at a party: Ani was there and Ben was not. What happens at the party is different but definitely along the lines of last year’s upsetting national headlines Steubenville rape case, while luckily social media wasn’t an added factor in this story, the amount of guys, the acts…you know where I’m going with this; it’s similar.

The book does a pretty good job of attempting the realistic: the shutdown of both the boyfriend and girlfriend’s lives–they change, they’re closed off, they act out, they don’t tell others and try to deal with the burden and trauma on their own terms. Every person acts differently and it was sad to see Ani’s character go into a downward spiral and to read how she made herself feel, to prove right others expectations from this one tragic night.

Things I liked:
-the realistic approach and not making it all sunshine and rainbows, it’s dark, and while it could seem unrealistic, I’ve read a bunch of posts on sites like XO, Jane where women have recounted their stories and a bunch acted out exactly how Ani did.
-the voice of Ben; really interesting to see through the prescriptive of someone who didn’t witness it, wasn’t around for it but just the before and aftermath.
-the fact that this is not your average YA novel…this might actually be more New Adult, but don’t quote me on that

Things I didn’t like:
-It was a little too short, or rather the ending fell flat. It would’ve been nice to see where things happened to go a little later on with the characters or a little more of Ben’s discussion when he goes to Ani’s house right before the book ends
-Obviously: the subject matter. It gets me too enraged. It gets my blood boiling when this stuff actually happens in real life–not just a made up story but girls and guys who suffer this every day.
-In the beginning of the story the dialogue sometimes felt a little cheesy but did get a bit better the rest of the way through

Overall rating: if you’re going to read this book, borrow it from a friend or library loan it–it’s a decent book but it’s a rough read you might not want to leave on your shelf.

xxLinz