indefinite hiatus; i may not come back to the blog, but I'll leave it up anyway if anyone wants to take a look at any old posts etc. :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

 Title: Elsewhere
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Square Fish
Pub. Date: May 15, 2005
Length: 304 pages
Summary (from goodreads):
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 Thoughts: The thing about Elsewhere is that you've probably already read something similar to it, because the topic just isn't very original. It's been done before. Someone wakes up and discovers that they are dead yadah yadah yadah. Well, the good news is that out of all the books I've read about the afterlife, Elsewhere is truly unique.
Like Pretties, Elsewhere really made me think. I never really liked the idea that when you die, you go someplace else to live forever. Elsewhere isn't like that. From the moment you die, you start to age backwards; and once you are a baby, you return to Earth as someone else. I really love that idea, the whole premises of the story and what it revolves around. Sadly, while the idea of Elsewhere was just Amazing, the rest of it was kind of a letdown.
 Elsewhere is a place that would be compared to heaven. It is, afterall, the place you go to after you die. But Liz doesn't know this (or, she does but doesn't choose to accept it, at the beginning). She is only fifteen, too young to have had all those "life experiences" such as going to collage and having children. So, when she arrives in Elsewhere, the only time she interacts with people is to ask for money or whine. And, honestly, I   found the wining to be quite annoy from third person. If it had been written from Liz's view, I probably would have had more sympathy for her.
Zevin writes third person very well. Usually, I have trouble getting into a book from that point of view,  but Gabrielle nailed it. Still, there were certain ideas in Elsewhere that didn't add up. For example, Marilyn Monroe runs a  psychiatric practice, but by the time Liz enters Elsewhere, shouldn't she have returned to Earth? And new paintings by Picasso?-he would have already returned to Earth and come back as a different person a few times.The last quarter of Elsewhere wasn't as satisfying as I had hoped. As my English teacher would say, this book was more of a line than a mountain. I found the almost-very-ending was to be best part. I won't ruin it for you by telling you the quote, but it was one that got a few tears out of me.

3.5 Moons


  1. I totally agree about some of the discrepancies in the book (really really found the Picasso and Marilyn Monroe bit annoying). I still found myself loving the book. It just made me smile a lot even though it was somewhat sad.

  2. I know! It had the potential to be a great, unforgettable book, but it felt as though the author didn't put enough thought into it. And the last quarter was just so loose. I wish it was longer. I probably would have rated it higher if it had been more filled in.


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