DAY 16: Most Thought Provoking Book.

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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. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

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.

Image Sources:
Header banner: My own image, please do not reuse.
Book Cover from Goodreads.

29 thoughts on “DAY 16: Most Thought Provoking Book.

    • Elsewhere is definitely worth a read if you have the time. 🙂 I read The Sky is Everywhere a year or two ago now and I agree, it makes good food for thought, another great read!

  1. Wow, I’m so glad you shared this novel it looks amazing. I love the concept of growing backwards after death and reincarnating. What a refreshing twist. I would much rather have a real protagonist that can be annoying than a perfect one who is unrealistic. I can just imagine how bitter I would be if I were in her position so to me her grieving is justifiied.

    Also I like that you said it’s mostly character and idea driven as I find that the best literature usually is instead of being plot driven.

    Thanks for sharing, I would have never discovered this book otherwise! 🙂

    • Thanks Lindsey, I’m so happy it has caught your eye. I was blown away by the concept of this book and it is even better when you are reading and discovering it for yourself. 🙂 I completely agree, I would take someone flawed over a squeaky clean character any day, humans naturally have faults and I like it when books reflect that! I would be bitter too, at the age of fifteen you are just about to start experiencing all those things you dream about as a child.

      Thank you, I have to say I am a mix of the two, it depends on my mood. 🙂

      No problem, thanks for reading! I hope you decide to pick up this book, it’s worth the attention.

  2. I read Elsewhere a long time ago – before I got a Goodreads account, so more than four years back. And while I don’t remember too much, I still recall how the concept grabbed me and how the ending made me choke up. Love how you pulled this one even though it was published awhile ago and despite its YA label (because YA books can be just as great as “literature”, obviously).

    • I didn’t remember the finer details much either, it’s amazing how memory can fade, I’ve found keeping a blog and writing reviews makes it much easier because you have a prompt you can look back on, I love that. 🙂
      It’s definitely a grab your tissues kind of story!
      Thank you, I think it can become so easy to forget about older novels and so many are still worthy of the attention! And YA books can be just as profound as adult ones.

  3. I know it’s hard to believe, but I have never heard of that book :). It sounds amazing though, so I might just have to look it up. As for me, I find so many books thought provoking in so many different ways, but a couple of books that popped right into my mind as being thought provoking and just all around moving are: The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, 11/22/63 by Stephen King, and Night Road by Kristin Hannah. These books are all totally different from each other, but they were all thought provoking and actually left me thinking about them for days and days afterwards. To me, that is the sign of a great book!

    • Woohhooo!! Do I get a prize for that? 😛 I’m sure you would love it, I know you love most books but I found this one especially awesome. It’s so great that it is difficult for you to choose, that is a great sign. 😀
      Ha indeed, totally different genre’s as well, it’s great that there is so much variety. I’m happy to see 11/22/63 in there because I have that one to read and I’m really excited about it! I don’t read much that could be considered historical fiction, not even when it has a twist and I’m sure I am missing out on a few great books that way.

      It’s definitely a sign of a good book, thanks for the recommendations Cindy!

  4. Wow, this book sounds interesting. I’ve added it to my Goodreads tbr list.

    Thought-provoking books for me tend to be the dystopian ones. Both Unwind by Neil Schuster and The Unit by Ninni Holmqvest left me thinking about them long after I’d finished them. I’ve gained some personal insight from these books as to the kind of story that affects me the most. It turns out that donating one’s organs (willingly or unwilling) whilst one is still alive is more terrifying to me than a zombie/viral/[insert disaster here] apocalypse. Perhaps that seems obvious, but I didn’t really think about it until I read these books. Dystopia allows me to imagine what the future could hold if we don’t change our evil ways.

    Great post!

    • Oooh that’s great! I hope you enjoy it when you get round to it. 🙂

      That’s a very interesting trend you’ve noticed and I can see how that would happen. All the dystopian books I have read so far have been YA, some more original than others but all have got my thoughts churning in some way, especially The Hunger Games, those books hit me hard!
      I’ve heard a lot of praise for Unwind so I’m curious about that one but I haven’t heard of the other, I will have to look it up! I loved the idea behind the dystopian Never Let Me Go, I’m desperate to read the book and I can’t wait to dive into some of the original dystopia that helped start it all like 1984, they will be must reads for me in the future. 😀 Do you have a favourite dystopian read?

      Thank you for reading and sharing!

    • There was a period of time when I kept hearing about Unwind everywhere and then it seemed to drop off the face of the earth! I had forgotten all about it… I never paid much attention to it because the cover didn’t grab me, bad Becky.

      I’ve wanted to read 1984 for years now, it’s such a famous and well loved book! Glad to hear you connected with it. 🙂

    • I don’t think this one is very well known either. I had never heard of it until a friend lent it to me with high praise and I was surprised by how deep it was and how quickly I fell in love with it. 😀

  5. I read this book years ago, and it really made me think. Even now, sometimes it will pop back into my mind and ponder the idea for days. Anyways, the most thought-provoking book I’ve read is probably Fahrenheit 451.

    • Yay! Someone who has actually read it! I know what you mean, it had a similar effect on me. 🙂 That’s why I ended up using it for this post. I would love to believe it was true, it paints such a poetic picture of the afterlife.

      Oooh that’s great to hear because I have an old beat up copy of that to read, it looks like it has been though the fire itself, lol.

      Thank you for reading and commenting Holly! 😀

  6. Ahhhh I’ve read this book! It was ages ago but I agree with you, this is a very interesting concept for a non-series young adult book. I love the quote you picked, too! I tried to get my young cousins to read this novel to no avail. In fact they hate reading. Sigh. What’s the world coming to?!
    Great choice for today! 😀

    • Yay, someone else who has read it! It’s good to know that at least a few people out there know of it, the novel almost seems like a well kept secret. 🙂 Yes, I miss the non-series books a lot these days! Sometimes you want short but sweet rather than long and epic.


      Actually, most people in my family don’t read either, it’s quite sad. I’m not totally shipwrecked though, so that’s something at least.

      Thank you, glad you approve. 🙂

      • I knowww, it’s awful. I babysat them for almost a month in the summer and there was hardly anything to talk about because they live their lives on Facebook and Instagram and have never even read OR seen the Harry Potter movies! WTF? They’re also “not allowed” to read/watch The Hunger Games – they’re 10, 12, and 14. Now, c’mon. They see/hear far worse things on the news and in school! Idk about people these days, I just don’t know…
        I think we need a reading revolution! (love your use of shipwrecked btw XD) Viva la resistance (to turning dumb from lack of reading)!

      • Facebook and Instagram??? At the age when they still need to be babysat?!?!?! That is just so WRONGGGG to me. 😦 I know it will make me sound all old saying that but it makes me so sad. Social networking and the internet are great but there are other tangible things that are important too.
        Never????? That’s so sad because I’m sure they would love it! I hope I can attack my own kids with the words of J.K. Rowling one day. 🙂
        Agh banned books that always frustrates me, I remember reading several post on mothers who were worried about The Hunger Games and I gave a similar case, they come across far worse things in real life on the news and in video games! So many young kids play COD etc now. Plus it doesn’t glamorize it in any way and I didn’t think they were actually that violent. It’s a shame when children have to miss out on great literature sometimes. I understand why parents do it, I just wish they wouldn’t.

        Hehe thank you. 🙂 We SO DO. I reckon English classes should teach more interesting books, the novels people study have put off a lot of readers in the past..

  7. Well, shouldn;t all books make you think?

    One that’s stuck in my head lately is Daemon by Daniel Suarez.
    It imagines a revolution built on technology and its use that isn’t that far-fetched at all.
    The second book is Freedom(TM), and it wraps up the story. Good book, but the first is definitely more thought provoking for me.

  8. Pingback: It’s a Bucket List AND a Book! | Day 16 | with allure, the wandering girl

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