Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

in a sentence or so: Liz dies in a hit-and-run, wakes up on a cruise ship, and discovers she has an entirely
new life to live. Welcome to Elsewhere.

Liz isn't exactly crazy about the idea of being dead.  She's only 16, which means she never went to prom, had her first kiss, went to college...basically anything she was looking forward to in life.  Sure, live in Elsewhere may include many of the things she loved while on Earth - animals, friends, rock stars - but it's not the same without her family and best friend.

After moving in with her grandmother (who is now younger than her mother), Liz spends hours watching her family back home and desperately tries to keep up with everything going on in their life. Of course, she can't - and trying only makes her more miserable. Finally, after much pushing and persuading on behalf of those who care for Liz on Elsewhere, she decides to let go and live her dead life...whatever that may mean.

I loved Zevin's idea of the afterlife. A life lived backwards, and the implications of that idea, were well explored and developed.  The ideas of loss and rebirth, philosophical but not pretentious, all centered in the core of relationships was beautiful and challenging.

Liz's voice was brooding and angsty, but self aware and open for growth with a touch of humor and sarcasm that was just perfect.    The process of letting go from Liz's perspective and from her family's perspectives were beautifully done and brought many a tear to my eye.  The quirks and small details of families and relationships helped create a genuine connection between Liz and the reader, and helped the overall impact of this read to soak in deeply.

fave quote: "...I think of it like a tree, because every tree is really two trees.  There's the tree with the branches that everyone sees, and then there's the upside-down root tree growing the opposite way.  So Earth is the branches, growing up into the sky, and Elsewhere is the roots, growing down in opposing but perfect symmetry..." (109)

fix er up: Liz was a little angsty for too long, in my opinion.

title: Elsewhere
author: Gabrielle Zevin
genre: Death, Friendship