Friday, July 20, 2007

Booksprouting Review: Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

Reading Level: Ages 12 and up

Paperback Reprint, 304 pages

Published: May 2007

Estimated Price: $6.95 USD

Elsewhere is the story of just that: a Bizarro World in which people grow younger with each passing year, mermaids swim lengths in the oceans, and dogs speak with humans. But before you dismiss this book as a knock-off of Peter Pan, know that Elsewhere is not a magical land that one enters through a wardrobe or by tapping the bricks in Diagon Alley; Elsewhere is where we go after we die.

Author Gabrielle Zevin offers readers a fresh imagining of the afterlife in her novel. Instead of writing about the often-iterated ideas found in life-after-death musings (moral judgment, the role of God), Zevin focuses her story on Liz, a recent arrival to Elsewhere following a fatal hit-and-run accident. Only 15 years old, Liz is understandably shaken at the idea of leaving her life, family, and friends. She struggles with accepting the loss and is bitterly convinced that there is nothing for her in her life-after-life. Her reluctance to let go proves to be a strong metaphor for grieving others and it almost seems as if it is not Liz herself who has died, but her loved ones.

While Zevin’s story deals with death, it is much more concerned with moving on and living - albeit in a world a little different than the one we know. The concept of aging backwards in Elsewhere allows for peculiar and humorous situations (think old men eagerly awaiting the years in which they will have a full head of hair again, and characters who must re-learn how to be a child after living for so long as an adult) that will have readers smiling.

5 out of 5 sprouts

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