Ever Wonder How Things Work in the Afterlife?
I loved The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin. I loved another book of hers as well, Young Jane Young. Thus, when I was looking for a book to read recently, I searched my library’s online catalogue and found another one of her books, Elsewhere. It wasn’t until the library got me a copy and I had it in hand that I realized it was categorized as Teen Fiction. No matter, the book quickly drew me in and I loved it. I recommend it to all.
This is the story of 15-year-old Elizabeth Marie Hall. As the book opens we learn that she was hit by a car and killed. The author has the audacity — and the ingenuity — to take us with Liz to the afterlife known as Elsewhere — and to paint in great detail how things work there.
Here are a few tidbits to whet your appetite:
• Not wanting to get off the boat that transported her to Elsewhere, Liz learns that she can indeed take the boat back to earth but that she won’t have a body to live in once she gets there so she would be a ghost.
• Once in Elsewhere, a person ages backwards until the person is a baby again and is then reborn.
• Those who can’t quite give up their past lives are able to O.D. — to go to the Observation Deck — where they can watch their loved ones through binoculars for the price of one “eternim” for five minutes of viewing.
• There is a way to talk to the living, but it’s illegal and dangerous.
In case you are wondering, pets do make it to Elsewhere. Indeed, they can talk in Elsewhere and many people are able to speak or learn “Canine.” As one who is not particularly fond of animals I was amazed to actually cry over two dog situations in the book. In one case, it was weird to cry tears of joy over the death of a dog on earth because I knew it marked the arrival of that much beloved dog in Elsewhere.
Such shifts in thinking make Elsewhere a great read. Such shifts also help to blend the concepts of life and death, a pretty amazing thing for any book to do, Teen Fiction included.
As a final note, I am always interested in the reviews a book gets and I especially look for reviews from major newspapers. This one got great reviews from the New York Times and from The Guardian. Enough said?
This is a five-star review!
Beside reading books and writing reviews of them, I also write books. I hope you will check out my new book, Love, Loss, and Moving On.