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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Love is the Higher Law: The Personal Side of Huge Events

David Levithan's Love is the Higher Law tackles the tough subject of September 11, 2001 in a very personal way—through the lives of three teenagers who happen to live in New York City on that day. Their individual experiences come together to create the picture of a city in crisis, and the compassion that can arise out of unthinkable tragedy.

For those who've read the book: What is it about David's way of telling this story that puts this huge-scale event in a very personal light?

And, what other books have you read that deal with something on a grand scale -- war, a big historical event, etc. -- and also manage to make the characters' stories shine through?

Also, if you were born, where were you that day?

8 comments:

Miss Bookiverse said...

I think what makes this book so personal is that David chose 3 completely different teens and told the story through their eyes. Also that he was there and exeperienced 9/11 right there in the city must've played a big role in his writing. It just felt real.
His writing always feels honest and real to me, he's just so freaking talented.

Melissa Walker said...

Ah, this book. We hearted it on I Heart Daily too:

http://www.iheartdaily.com/2009/09/on-911-let-love-be-the-higher-law.html

Lorie Ann Grover said...

It really does sound compelling.

And I wanted to ask, if you were born, where were you that day?

I was awakened by my visiting brother to the news on the TV. We watched in horror as the towers fell down over and over...

Lauren said...

I really need to read that book. The only other novel dealing with 911 that i've read was "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," which was brilliant and beautiful. It's about survival, really.

As for me, on that day I was a freshman in college. Both my roommate and I had family in New York. We stayed in the community room in our dorm most the day, clenching our phones. Later, we donated blood because that's what you do when you don't know what to think.

Melissa Walker said...

Good Q, Lorie Ann. I was at my first job in NYC, at Rosie O'Donnell's magazine. I was walking to work when the first plane hit, and I heard it, but I thought it was a special effect for MEN IN BLACK 2, which was filming near my office.

When I went upstairs, all the TVs were on. I thought it was a LaGuardia mess-up, until we all saw the second plane hit live. Then I called my parents to tell them I was okay, but it was almost too shocking to be scary.

The rest of the day is a haze, but I did make it back to Brooklyn around 4pm, where my window had been open, and my bedroom was covered in dust. I closed the window and cleaned all night.

elfarmy17 said...

This book is waiting for me at the library as we speak.

I was only 5 (almost 6) when it happened, so I don't remember it well. However, my uncle worked in that side of the Pentagon. The plane only penetrated the floor under his, and he made it out okay, though. However, he had to walk 4 miles to find a working phone, so my entire family was going crazy over it. My aunt still won't talk about it-- alone with a toddler and a baby, unsure if her husband was alive.
By the time I got home, though, we knew he was okay so I wasn't too bothered. I was sad, sure, but it wasn't that big of an event for me as it was to those who were older.
Have you guys read Harry A History by Melissa Anelli? She includes her experience in there.

Little Willow said...

Each of the three narrators has a story to tell, and tells that story in his or her own way. Levithan has a rare talent in that he can create varied characters and relate stories in such a way that you'd swear multiple authors penned them.

When large events are made personal, specific, detailing one person's journey through what you called the huge-scale event, those details can draw you in. The characters give the story heart, making things matter and connect with readers in a way that straight facts and stats don't always.

Micol Ostow said...

I remember that day so clearly - I was working as an editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster and we had a meeting that morning that I was all scrubbed and fresh for. All I could think about was the meeting. When I got to work, people were huddled around a radio, but I didn't pay it any attention - my mind was on my work. In my office, the phone rang, and it was my mother, asking if I was okay. I had no idea why she thought I wouldn't be. But stepping back into the "bullpen," we all slowly realized what was going on. We watched some coverage in a conference room, and once we were all accounted for, our Editorial Director sent us home (or to friends/family).

I walked twenty blocks (which was nothing, compared to some people's treks) to Chelsea and spent two nights with a friend. My parents were in Jersey and my brother was with my aunt on the Upper East Side. By Saturday, we were out and about walking, again, meeting up with some friends in Central Park. But nothing was the same.