Friday, September 25, 2009

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Publication Date/Version: September 2005/Hardcover
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 277
Age Group: Young Adult

Welcome to Elsewhere. It is usually warm with a breeze, the sun and the stars shine brightly, and the beaches are marvelous. It's quiet and peaceful here. And 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.


It's where fifteen-year-old Liz Hall ends up, after she has died. It is a place so like Earth, yet completely different from it. 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. She wants to fall in love. 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?

Jeez, what a long description. I picked this up at the library because I've always heard great things about it. Elsewhere, however, didn't stick with me like it did with other readers. I finished this only a week ago, and I can't remember a single character's name. That's bad.

First off, the premise. Based on the book description, I was very excited to read it. It sounded like a cool, new take on the afterlife. It took me about 100 pages to get into the book, however. I found the beginning much to slow, and the rest of the book wasn't much better for me. The premise was a good one, but it wasn't executed very well.

Next are the characters. I didn't connect with any of them. A couple had me chuckling, but I never felt much emotion towards them. There were only a couple of times when I did. I rooted for Liz during her bumpy, heartbreak-filled search for love. When Liz meets her killer, I was very emotional. After reading the whole book, I almost cried at some of the things she said - good, not bad. There was also a great quote from Liz that I wanted to share: "A life isn't measured in hours and minutes. It's the quality, not the length" (Page 266). That really touched me after all of the tumultuous events in the book. That was definitely a wonderful section Elsewhere and it is one of the most moving parts of a book I've read in a long time.

Overall: I could never really get into Elsewhere, and the concept wasn't executed very well.

My Advice: I would recommend picking this up from your local library, simply because the end is so touching.

Cover: I like the cover, because both the snow globe and the ship fit the story. I don't find it to be incredibly striking, however.


  1. Thats pretty much exactly how I felt about this book. I thought it was slow and I didn't really connect with the characters well. It had great potential but failed to meet it. Nice honest review.


  2. I really liked Elsewhere but I know what you mean. I loved all the things about life and death she finally learned. OH and I loved the dogs!
    I know one day when I meet my little manly poodle in heaven he's going to look up at me and say, "Where've you been?"

  3. Thanks for the review. I've heard mixed things about this book. I got it for my classroom, and one of my students said it was her favorite book. I think it'll be one I'll have to find out for myself. But at least I know that it might take some work to get into.

  4. Interesting review! I really loved Elsewhere, but I can understand why readers might not connect with it. It's written in a strange style that I didn't quite 'get' at first. It's also quite odd in places (e.g. talking to the other world via plumbing). Because I did love it, I found those things endearing, but I guess it's not for everyone.

  5. Nice review. I wasn't crazy about this book, either. I found the characterizations to be awful. The dead dogs were more interesting than the humans, for crying out loud!

  6. Yeah, I'd have to agree with you. There was just something about it I couldn't get into, couldn't keep in my head after reading. I loved the concept, but wish it could have been developed in a more attention-retaining way.

  7. I want to read this someday, just because I've heard mostly good things about it. I agree with you about the cover, it's very cool!

  8. Sorry you couldn't get into it. This is in my TBR pile. I might wait a while to read it though, there's so many great books to read. Thanks for the honest review!

  9. Thanks everyone. I have to agree, I enjoyed listening to tthe dogs talk more than the people. haha The dogs were actually one of my favorite parts.

  10. This was one of my favorite books that I have read this year. I am sorry you didn't enjoy it as much as I did!

  11. oh my goodness I want this book so bad! lol


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