I’m past the halfway point in the 30 Day Book Challenge, wohooo! Is it just me or does it seem like I’ve been doing this for a long time already?
So today’s book was surprisingly easy for me to come up with. It’s another oldie (I’m really digging into the recesses of my mind lately aren’t I?) but I also consider it one of my favourites because it has such a unique concept.
The book in the spotlight today is Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. Again, this novel would be classed as young adult, but I wouldn’t want the genre to put people off because I think it would appeal to a much wider audience!
Elsewhere is the story of Liz Hall, a teen whose life is tragically cut short at fifteen years after a devastating hit and run. She has always dreamed of what her future life would be like, romances, college, children? But none of it is possible now and she is shipped off to elsewhere, the place where humans live out their afterlife.
But Liz refuses to adjust to her new surroundings, clinging to the past instead of trying to enjoy her future. Will she ever learn to accept her death?
~ * ~
What I truly loved about this book was the concept, Elsewhere felt like such a unique creation and Zevin portrays it so effectively. In this version of the afterlife people age backwards, so if someone dies at the age of twenty-five they will slowly make their way back through their awkward and turbulent teen years, their childhood and then their time as a toddler until they become a baby. At this point, they get sent back to earth to be born again. There are many other aspects to Elsewhere, but I won’t tell you too much because where would the fun be in that? 😉 I found Zevin’s ideas on reincarnation such a fascinating twist on those that already exist and it was beautifully done, so much so that I wished that it could be real. It has almost become a little fairytale I like to imagine really happens. After all, none of us know for sure what happens after we die, we have our own beliefs whether religious, agnostic or scientific, so why should Elsewhere be any less possible?
Liz is a self centered somewhat frustrating character at points, but why shouldn’t she be? She is grieving for the life she didn’t get to live, the experiences she will never have, the people she will never meet. While her point of view could get on some readers nerves I found her startlingly realistic, and for that reason I think she made an excellent protagonist for this novel. It is an emotional ride watching Liz as she discovers the wonders and frustrations of living in elsewhere and how she learns to adapt. She gets to reunite with family members she has long lost while also meeting a new cast of people who have interesting tales to share.
This novel is mostly character and idea driven, so don’t expect a plot focused book. Zevin’s discussions on the afterlife, reincarnation and what it means to live are incredibly thought provoking (hence why I’m using it for day sixteen in the challenge). There is something very poetic and poignant about the author’s writing style which kept me glued to the book. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who is in the mood to read something thoughtful and a little different. Fifteen year old me thought it was worth five stars, and hopefully nineteen year old me would think so too! 😀 I’ll leave you with this great quote from the novel:
“There will be other lives.
There will be other lives for nervous boys with sweaty palms, for bittersweet fumblings in the backseats of cars, for caps and gowns in royal blue and crimson, for mothers clasping pretty pearl necklaces around daughters’ unlined necks, for your full name read aloud in an auditorium, for brand-new suitcases transporting you to strange new people in strange new lands.
And there will be other lives for unpaid debts, for one-night stands, for Prague and Paris, for painful shoes with pointy toes, for indecision and revisions.
And there will be other lives for fathers walking daughters down aisles.
And there will be other lives for sweet babies with skin like milk.
And there will be other lives for a man you don’t recognize, for a face in a mirror that is no longer yours, for the funerals of intimates, for shrinking, for teeth that fall out, for hair on your chin, for forgetting everything. Everything.
Oh, there are so many lives. How we wish we could live them concurrently instead of one by one by one. We could select the best pieces of each, stringing them together like a strand of pearls. But that’s not how it works. A human’s life is a beautiful mess.”
What is the most thought provoking book you have ever read? Have you ever come across Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin? Happy reading! 🙂
What’s the 30 Day Book Challenge you ask? Click here and find out.
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Book Cover from Goodreads.