Ten Years Later: Remembering 9/11 with author David Levithan
September 11th, 2001. It’s impossible to forget that day, the sky was cloudless and the most perfect shade of blue. Then the ultimate tragedy happened. We all have our memories of where we were, who we were with, who we suddenly needed to be with and wondering whether our world had been changed forever.
Following the tragedy of Sept 11th, author David Levithan took all of these elements and wrote the remarkable novel LOVE IS THE HIGHER LAW. We at RAoR thought that a fitting tribute to our fellow Americans and citizens of the world would be to share David’s heartfelt letter which was included in the ARC of LOVE IS THE HIGHER LAW.
I’ve never really used shorthand to describe one of my books before. But from the very start, Love Is the Higher Law was “the 9/11 book.” It’s about much, much more than 9/11 . . . but it’s also entirely about 9/11. I never really wanted to write a novel about it . . . and then I found myself writing a novel about it. Because I had to.
Believe me, I’ve seen the look on my friends’ faces when I’ve talked about “the 9/11 book.” They’ve been very encouraging . . . but many of them have had the same reaction I would have if one of my friends told me he was writing about 9/11: Sounds important . . . and really, really depressing. When am I going to be in the mood to read a 9/11 book? Why go back to that time?
I understand. Truly. If you take that hesitation about reading a 9/11 book and multiply it by about a thousand, you’ll probably get the trepidation an author feels about writing a 9/11 book.
But here’s the thing: As time goes by, it’s really easy to remember 9/11 and the days afterward as a time of tragedy, fear, grief, and loss. Less easy to remember—and even harder to convey—is that it was amazing not just for the depth of that loss, but also for the heights of humanity that occurred. The kindness. The feeling of community. The deepening of love and friendship. It was a depressing time, for sure—but it was also an inspiring time. If you were an adult or a teen, you couldn’t help but feel it. And if you were just a child—like most of today’s teens were—you might only remember the facts of it, not the feelings. That’s why I wrote this book—it is, at heart, my small attempt to convey the heartbreak, surrealism, heroism, mourning, and music of that time.
We all have 9/11 stories, and it’s good for us to tell them. I’ve stopped trying to avoid calling this a 9/11 book—it is what it is, and it has become much more than I ever thought it could be. I hope very much that you will read it.
On September 11th 2011, remember those who were lost, love the people around you and take a moment to show just a little extra kindness.