Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Elsewhere" by Gabrielle Zevin

Reading Hammock’s Rating:
3 out of 5
Fiction Genre:
Gabrielle Zevin
Author Website:
Publication Date:
May, 2007
Square Fish
Paperback | Hardcover | Audio | Digital


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.

My review:

I have wanted to read this book for a while since many people in my grade have read and loved it.  When my library finally had it available, I immediately picked it up, expecting a fast paced story that would be hard to put down.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

One aspect of the story that I found hard to look past was the tense that Zevin decided to use.  Although I have never focused on this until now, most books I have read are written in the past tense, but Zevin made the choice to write “Elsewhere” in the present tense, which made it hard for me to concentrate on the story. 

In the first half of the novel, Zevin did a great job of showing and describing Liz’s struggle to fit into ‘Elsewhere.’  But, I felt that the bulk of the story happened quickly in the last hundred pages of the three hundred pages in this book.  I would have liked learning more about Liz’s entire afterlife and less of the over-dramatic difficulties Liz faced when she arrived.  I was disappointed with the story because it lacked in action and was overwhelmed with too many emotions. 

Despite the adulation my cohorts, I would not recommend that you pick up this novel because it has an unbalanced amount of action and drama that made the plot too complex to fit into such a short story.  

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