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.
Elsewhere is a 2006 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
As a reader, I don’t personally find books that deal with “out of body experiences” to be particularly my speed. I’m one of the very few readers who found If I Stay to be underwhelming, and just, in general, the topic doesn’t do much for me. I’m not sure why. At the same time, I will say that Elsewhere exceeded my expectations, and I found myself enjoying it.
Honestly, the best thing this book has going for it is the uniqueness of Zevin’s portrayal of the afterlife. In this place (called Elsewhere), people age backwards until they become babies again and are sent back to Earth. During that time, people have an “avocation”, which is basically doing what they love as a kind of job. It sounds simple, I guess, but I think Elsewhere did a great job with world-building and making things understandable. Everything, mostly, made sense. (I was unsure about how the rebirth scenario accounted for population increase, but whatevs.)
Otherwise, I really only thought this book was so-so. It definitely reads at a level below the majority of YA that’s getting published lately. Both the characters and writing are fairly juvenile and simplistic. I imagine that this book would have been more of a hit with me if I was a bit younger than I am now. Definitely, I’d put this book in the children’s section of the bookstore/library. (Obviously, standard definition of YA has changed a lot since this was originally published.)
For some background, Elsewhere is about 15-year-old Liz who gets killed in a hit-and-run car accident. She arrives at the dock and is greeted by her grandmother, who’s now 34 years old (reverse aging and whatnot). While there she goes through several months of denial/depression, and then finds her avocation working with dogs. She also meets Owen, and they “fall in love”, which is really awkward and kind of instalove-y. Then (spoiler alert!) at the end, Liz does her Benjamin Button thing, turns back into a baby, goes back to Earth, and becomes an entirely different person (I assume sans her memories as Liz, though that was never explained fully). The book’s plot, as I said, isn’t too complicated or fast-paced, but it was still engaging and enjoyable for the most part. The romance did ruin things a bit for me, I must admit.
In the end, I had fun with Elsewhere. It’s not a perfect book and is maybe a bit younger than my preferred reading, but still not really bad. Zevin’s concept is interesting and definitely a change from anything I’ve read before. Really, there’s not any specific reason I can think of for people to not read this book, so…people should read it.
It's cover grabbed my attention!
The cover of this book was what had my attention since I first saw it. A snow globe in the middle of a blue, yellow and green background, just like a fantasy world in the middle of nowhere. You can feel like a spectator to a new world.
About the reading: It was refreshing and relaxing. It shows originality and inventiveness from the author. Characters show development and are easy to relate to. Then again, the events are predictable, something inevitable when the author establishes from the beginning the outcome of the story. Also, at some scenes the exchange between characters can be a little corny.
I enjoyed Elsewhere. It was fun and original, sometimes too predictable, but never boring. After reading Elsewhere and looking again at the cover, I visualize the snow globe as a contained , secure but fragile world. Also, I can say it brings the feeling of looking through one of the observation decks lenses the story mentions.
Elsewhere...the book with a twist!
Elsewhere is one book I definitely do not regret buying!
A new spin on the afterlife
Reader reviewed by GBC
Elsewhere is a fantastic spin on the afterlife. When Liz is hit by a hit and run driver, she "awakes" on a large cruise ship headed toward Elsewhere. Over the course of the ride, she realizes she is dead. When she arrives in Elsewhere, Liz meets her grandmother (who died before she was born) and goes to live with her. Elsewhere is a lot like here, except that people age backwards and ultimately return to be reincarnated. During her time in Elsewhere, Liz is forced to grow up as she grows younger, falls in love, and ultimately comes to term with her death.
This book explores life after death as well as the real relationships between people. Why should love be any different in the afterlife?
A Great Book
Reader reviewed by Bianca
In the book Elsewhere Liz dies at a young age. She awakes to find herself on a boat. Liz has no idea where she is or that she is dead. She finds some special people and figures her death out. The boat is nearing Shore and Liz begins her journey, living her life after death backwards!
This book was great. It gets your mind thinking I thought it was sad the but the whole book had a point to it. Everyone is always asking if there's life after death right? Well, read this book and you'll have one idea how your life will be after dying.
A different take on heaven and the after life
Reader reviewed by Adriana M.
I read this via an audio CD version. The narrator was great; she really captured the voice and feeling of the main character. The story centers around almost-fifteen year old Liz. It starts out with her death after she is hit by a taxi cab while riding her bike to the mall to meet her best friend for some shopping. Liz ends up in Elsewhere, which is basically a version of heaven, but everyone starts to age backwards until they become babies and are sent back to earth to live out a new life. At first she is heartbroken and obsessed with returning to her former life, but eventually she comes to accept her destiny and along the way she meets her maternal grandmother whom she hadn't met before, and several other characters that help enrich her new "life" after death in Elsewhere. It is a tender, heart-wrenching tale, that has some laugh out loud moments, and it made me want to believe in such a place as Elswhere.
Reader reviewed by Kv
I LOVED this idea of after death aging backwards, it just floods your head with a million other thoughts. How you have a chance of meeting your friends and family again after you or they have passed away. How age really is just a number, it just depends on when you die. Also makes you think, hey if the afterlife is Elsewhere, is it really that bad?
Even though the idea was great, the writing bored me a bit. However the concept kept me from putting it down. Drew me in really fast though
Reader reviewed by Ella
I really liked Elsewhere, but it wasn't one of my top ten. It really made me think about what might happen in the afterlife and I obsessed over what my avocation would be (I'd totally be a keeper of the books!). The book dealt with a very emotional subject but somehow was anything but, although I did cry at the end (I was also PMSing, so I probably wasn't very reliable). After I read the part the wedding when Liz talks to Alvy, I had to go give my little brother a hug. It was too sweet! I would suggest Ms. Zevin's book Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac to anyone who enjoyed Elsewhere and Elsewhere to people who want to read books that make them think.
backwards life brings new challenges
Reader reviewed by mearley
Here's an unusual twist on an afterlife. Elsewhere is where you go after you die, and you begin getting younger. Once you are a baby again, you return to earth and live a new life. There are obvious new challenges to a life lived backwards.
Interesting concept. Totally against my own beliefs of what happens after death, but taken as a fantasy, not bad. I could see strong influences of "The Giver" in this book.
Reader reviewed by Vanessa
Summary: Liz is a victim of a hit-and-run driver. Unfortunately, she passes away. When she wakes up she's in a place that she can only be dreaming about. The place is called Elsewhere and everything there is kind of like Earth but at the same time not like it at all. People on Elsewhere get younger instead of older. However, it's still like Earth in the sense that you have friends and family and a job. Betty is Liz's grandmother whom she never met until now. Liz meets other people who become great friends. Liz may have thought at the beginning of her arrival to Elsewhere that she'd never get used to this new "life" but as time goes on, she learns she loves it.
My Review (no spoilers): This was a charming tale of coming-of-age. Liz is a believable character and I think I would act just like her if what happened to her happened to me. I'd be depressed and want my old life back. I really liked Betty, she's very alive and she just wants to help Liz get used to Elsewhere. Thandi was funny and a good friend. I liked all the characters a lot. The boy in the story was really cute to Liz. The plot is probably my favorite part, I've never read a book about the afterlife and this was a different way to look at it. I really liked this book although sometimes I found somethings not important that I don't want to reveal because they contain spoilers. Whenever I was reading I was asking myself what about this and what about that. Is there crime in Elsewhere? I didn't feel as though I had a good sense of how it worked and the whole aura of what Elsewhere really looked like. I wish Thandi was a more developed character and Thandi's and Liz's friendship too. I think I expected more than I got from this book. I still recommend it though.
My Thoughts (contains spoilers): Well, I liked this book, as you can tell. It's just I thought I would get so much more than I received. Owen and Liz and their problems were just a little weird for me. First he likes her, then he doesn't, then he leaves her for his wife, then he takes her back. I guess the progression is what I didn't like? I felt as though there was no point when they would in the end get back together. Also, when Liz was a Sneaker, I was just like... you're going to be saved by Owen and come back to Elsewhere. I didn't understand why Liz went to Zooey's wedding after reading the letter (it didn't make me want to go to my friend's wedding if she hadn't even gone to my funeral). I liked it, its just some things were iffy.
Reposted from whatvanessareads.wordpress.com