Nov 11, 2009

Love is the Higher Law

David Leviathan, Love is the Higher Law, 2009, Knopf.


Yeah, I know that September 11th was months ago. The only reason I’m talking about it now is that I picked up David Leviathan’s Love is the Higher Law on an impulse. At first I didn’t think I’d even want to read the book. It’s about teenagers living in New York City when the World Trade Center was destroyed, something which I didn’t need to relive (having been a teen myself at the time albeit in New England not NYC). But curiosity got the better of me.

Leviathan tells the story of three teens living in NYC who all have varying experiences of that day and the days and weeks afterwards. Yet the book is not so much about the events of that day as it is about how the teens are shaped by it, in the way that each generation is shaped by their own significant historical event. It is also feels like a bit of an ode to the brief period of time when we were in transition as a nation and a culture.

The book was a bit of a nostalgia trip for me. At one point a couple of the characters go to a Travis concert and the band is described thus “musically, they may be a blip on the Brit-pop radar—but in September 2001 they are big enough to sell out Radio City Music Hall” (81). It was amusing to me to read that since I remember thinking I was so indie for liking that band in high school. It also lead me to the question I now keep asking myself: whether Leviathan intended this book for those of us in our twenties who had our teenage world view interrupted by 9/11 or for those teens today who were still in elementary school when it occurred? I’m sure my reading of this work feels entirely different than someone who is a currently a teenager.

Has anyone else read this who was also in high school or college in 2001?

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