Sunday, May 23, 2010

Elsewhere - Gabrielle Zevin


Bookmooch:   Welcome to Elsewhere. It is warm, with a breeze, and the beaches are marvelous. It’s quiet and peaceful. You can’t get sick or any older. Curious to see new paintings by Picasso? Swing by one of Elsewhere’s museums. Need to talk to someone about your problems? Stop by Marilyn Monroe’s psychiatric practice.

Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different. Here Liz will age backward from the day of her death until she becomes a baby again and returns to Earth. But Liz wants to turn sixteen, not fourteen again. She wants to get her driver’s license. She wants to graduate from high school and go to college. And now that she’s dead, Liz is being forced to live a life she doesn’t want with a grandmother she has only just met. And it is not going well. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different from a life lived forward? This moving, often funny book about grief, death, and loss will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.


The first time I read this a few years back, I was absolutely captivated by the ideals behind this story. While the prose is simple, the concepts behind this story are very mature. I've always played around with the idea of reincarnation - I find it interesting. This novel manages to depict after death in a pseudo-reincarnation format. It's a totally unique concept (at least for me - I haven't heard of it yet).

Having just reread it does not change my feelings towards this novel. Although I usually go for books with absolutely outstanding prose, this book needed simplistic prose to offset the magnitude of the themes in the novel. The book is far from being all about death - the main character goes through all the stages of grief and mourning, and has to learn how to cope with this huge change in her "life". This book is about growth and love - even after a great tragedy. You become so moved by the challenges this young woman goes through and has to overcome - you relate to the experiences she has to go through in trying to become a normal person again. And, as any person more experienced in matters of love, you hit upon the ability to love more than one person with all your heart.

I find that I often have this difficulty with books that I love - I have very little to write as it is hard for me to describe why I love them. All I can say is that I hope you read it and discover what I did in this novel.


An excellent novel. Something that I read in my early high school years and has managed to stick with me since then. One of my absolute favourite teen fiction reads.

Recommended for

Young adult readers - especially lovers of Deb Caletti and Sarah Dessen.

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