I have a new hero and his name is David Levithan. He wrote this little sliver of a YA novel that I haven't been able to get out of my head: Love is the Higher Law. It's about three New York City teens whose lives are changed by the collapse of the World Trade Center.
Like all teens, Jasper, Claire, and Peter had been searching for their selves. But after what Jasper calls "the tragedy," that search becomes critical; the emptiness needs fulfilling. Purpose needs to be realized.
These are wise kids, yes, but they're also just kids. They live for music, and they hang out and talk, and they have heaps of hope.
I particularly love Peter's early chapter, "The Date"--one, ten-page paragraph. One stream of consciousness, one string of events.
I also love that the novella begins and ends with Claire.
While gobbling up this morsel, I had no doubt that Levithan knows kids, that he knows gay kids, that he knows New York. That he understands suffering and the search to end it.
This book makes me want more out of my own life: more meaning, more depth, more substance.
It is one of those fiction pieces that makes you want to tell all the nonfiction believers in the world, "Hah! Take that! This book made me think! I mean, really think. So, it wasn't true, exactly. But try to get all that out of an encyclopedia."
Love is the higher law. And Levithan is the Supreme Justice.
I was exhausted, post Flu, after driving three kids to California during the weekend, when my two youngest and my niece begged for a bedtime story.
Slowly in the dark, I began to spin a tale, a non-fiction piece, actually, knowing it was easier to borrow than to have to create.
Halfway in and gathering steam, I was hearing all these pops and clicks. "What IS that?" I asked (not very nicely).
"A gun," said Rees, eight.
Honestly, I was too tired to get up and turn on the light and see what he was talking about. So I yelled, "Mac!" and my seventeen-year-old brother busted down the bedroom door, to see what I was panicking over.
"Please," I mumbled into my pillow. "Take. The gun. Away. From Rees."
Mac flicked on the light and Rees handed over the busted pellet gun. Then the paint gun. The dart guns. A BB gun. And three toy rifles.
I laughed myself wide awake seeing Mac in the doorway with guns under his arms, pinned to his sides, between his knees.
Save yourself hours of reading with these highlights:
The September 2009 issue of US News & World Report claims that a third of college freshmen will drop out after that year, and another 20% before graduation.
In America, women make up the majority of co-ed student bodies.
Florida State University declares a black graduation rate of 72%, higher than that of whites.
In Britain, most high school graduates take a "gap year," before college, during which they travel, work, or volunteer.
While colleges struggle to accommodate students with dwindling funding, some consider privatization.
Admissions essays to Ivy League schools earn big points for proving why the college is a match. Standardized test scores (like the SAT) are under scrutiny.
If money's an object, as it is for the vast majority of the nation, the ends of the spectrum are suggested. Try community college, which enroll 6 million students in the U.S, and which are emerging in the academic recession as financially and curricularly savvy. Or aim high--for Harvard, Princeton, or Stanford, the top 1, 2, and 4 financial-friendly schools.
Tuesday and Thursday were the first classes of RCC's fall term. With enrollment up a whopping 30%, classrooms (and parking lots) were packed.
Because of state furlough days, our instructional time is cut; I'll only see my students for about two months.
On the first day, we learned how to strengthen our writing by what not to put in it: cliches, irrelevancy, redundancy, overuse of modifiers, a generic hook and a general title, "you." And then we came up with stuff with boosting power: strong verbs, transitional phrases, stylistic devices like imagery, a satisfying conclusion.
The critical piece is the proof. The who/what/where/when/why/how. The specific details. Thesis support.
It's a lot, I realize.
And when I told the students--all ba-zillion of them--that revision was to be the most important part of their process, that it should take the longest and be the most challenging, they looked at me at blinked. I've seen that look before. At the beginning of every term, actually.
They believe they won't survive it.
They don't think so, but they'll get there. I know it enough for all of them.