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Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

For the record, I don't like ghost stories, or books with talking animals*, so by all things logical, I definitely shouldn't have enjoyed Elsewhere. But I found it strangely captivating.

The basic premise is this: when you die, you go to this other world, called Elsewhere, where you gradually get younger until you're sent back to earth as a baby. (So, if you're 20 when you die, you'll stay in Elsewhere for 20 years).

Liz, the protagonist, is 16 when she dies in a traffic accident and must go live in Elsewhere. She is taken in my her grandmother (who died before Liz was born and has now aged backwards to her late 30s). At first, Liz spends her days watching everything going on back on Earth and trying to find a way to communicate with her family there.

But then, she finds her vocation (different from a job) helping animals who have crossed over, and she becomes friends with Owen, and she begins to move on with her "life".

The concept of the novel is fantastic; however, the writing isn't anything spectacular and Zevin's phrasing is awkward at times. There were also some issues (like Owen's wife dying and coming to Elsewhere) that had the potential to be a lot more emotionally complex that were basically glossed over.** That being said, I would still recommend this as a light, dreamy read. (And I am still looking forward to Zevin's new novel: Memoirs of Teenaged Amnesiac)

Oh, and if you're curious, that's the cover from some Asian country (sorry, not sure what alphabet that is), but I think it's a gorgeous, and fitting, picture.

*I once had a very long argument with my boyfriend about this. I had to convince him that not liking "talking-animal-books" did not make me a horrible person.

**I'm putting this in the footnotes because it is a SPOILER, but basically Owen just tells his wife he's not in love with her any more and she moves out, and then he gets back together with Liz and everything is hunky-dory.


Jackie Parker said...

I SO want to read Memoirs of a Teenaged Amnesiac.

Sara said...

Me too... and my library hasn't even ordered it yet!!!

I thought I put in a request for it, but maybe I forgot. I'm thinking about hanging out at Borders for a couple hours to read it (and Eclipse, because our copies STILL haven't come in).

TadMack said...

I've passed on this book *twice* for the same reasons: talking animals and ghosts. Not big on the Redwall series, and I've had people giving me LOOKS about that for years.

And that the writing wasn't stellar, and a hugely emotional thing was glossed over...? Hm... I was right to skip. Y'all let me know how you like the amnesiac thing.

Sara said...

LOL! I know! Why are the characters in Redwall mice anyway? They act and talk and think just like people. (I know I'm going to get angry looks for this one).

The librarian at my elementary school LOVED talking-animal books, which I think turned me off to them forever.

Nicole said...

aww that's a shame, lol! I guess I'll "see" you in Assessing Info Needs tommorrow night! (I'm a little bit nervous!)

Sara said...

"See" you soon!!! :)

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