17 October, 2010

Love is the Higher Law

Love is the Higher Law by David Levithan

I know I read a review of this somewhere, but I'm not sure where! So whoever it was, can I just say thank you!

Love is the Higher Law is set on the day of and the days just after September 11.  It focuses on 3 New York teens who are loosely connected and their reactions to the attacks. While none of them lose anyone in the attacks, they are still strongly affected.

It's not a long book , just over 160 pages and only took me 2-3 hours to read, but it packs a punch. I can remember waking up and watching the news in disbelief. I was just pregnant with my first child and I wondered what kind of world I was bring them into. At work, the normal classroom routine was blown out of the water as we tried the best we could to explain to the kids what had happened and why. A friend who is American by birth was trying to describe exactly how tall the twin towers were, again, something we struggled to comprehend. Even now, when someone says 9/11 you automatically think of that day. If it has had that kind of effect on me, I can't imagine what it would be like for someone who calls New York home.

The opening chapter of the book really got me thinking. Clare is at school and her brother at the elementary school across the road. She goes to his classroom and ends up staying and helping his teacher. Parents arrive to collect their children and eventually there is a handful of kids left. It occurred to me how difficult it would have been to be a teacher in one of the schools near Ground Zero. Where are these kids parents? Are they simply having trouble getting through or is it something much worse? As a teacher you would most probably have a general idea of what the parents did. Did they work in the Twin Towers, or near by? Suddenly you are in charge of a group of children and you don't know if their parents are coming for them or not. It would have been horrendous!

In all for me, this book gave me an insight into how 9/11 would have affected some people. How the whole of New York had to find a new way of being, a way of keeping going, of continuing to live in the face of so much death,.

I think about the posters, how they went in a matter of days from poster of the missing to posters of the missed. Eventually they were taken down. Gone is not forgotten, but our lives cannot be a memorial. This city  cannot be a memorial. This city has to be a city. Our lives have to be our lives.