Elsewhere

( 526 )

Overview

Is it possible to grow up while getting younger?

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 ...

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Overview

Is it possible to grow up while getting younger?

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.

 

Elsewhere is a 2006 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In many ways, Elsewhere is out of this world. Within this pleasant, inviting place, so much like Earth, no one gets sick or grows old. In fact, everyone is growing younger. For 15-year-old Liz Hall, who arrives in Elsewhere after her demise, aging backward is not a happy prospect. Like any living teenager, she wants to turn 16, not 14; yearns to fall in love, not reenter infancy. Gabrielle Zevin's first teen novel about being dead offers keen insights about living.
Publishers Weekly
Even readers who have strong views on what happens after death may find themselves intrigued by the fascinating world of "Elsewhere," the place 15-year-old Liz ends up after she is killed in a bicycle accident. A surreal atmosphere permeates chapter one as Liz awakens on a ship (mostly occupied by elderly people), unaware of its destination. Her situation gradually comes into focus after she arrives at the island of Elsewhere and is greeted by her grandmother, who died before Liz was born. Liz learns that the aging process works differently in this land of the dead: instead of getting older, humans (and animals) grow younger. When they reach infancy, they are sent down the River to be reborn on Earth. In other ways, Elsewhere resembles the world Liz left behind; residents work at jobs (although here, everyone has a chance to pursue an "avocation... something a person does to make his or her soul complete"), celebrate holidays and form friendships. Liz also falls in love for the first time, while her grandmother (who has progressed back to her thirties) becomes engaged to a famous rock star; and readers will likely be intrigued by the "strictly forbidden" Well. Prudently skirting the issue of God's role in Elsewhere (when she asks about God, Liz is told simply "God's there in the same way He, She, or It was before to you. Nothing has changed"), Margarettown author Zevin, in her first novel for young people, bends the laws of physics and biology to create an intricately imagined world. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
Lizzie is dead. The 15-year-old was killed in a car accident on her way to the mall to meet a friend. This novel is the story of her "life" in the hereafter—in Elsewhere. Loosely reminiscent of the Greek myths, the people experience time backward, growing younger until they are infants who then once again return to Earth. Lizzie is a typical teen and she cannot believe that she is dead. The "life" she finds in Elsewhere seems to be a sick joke. What difference does it make where you live or what you do when you are dead? Lizzie lives with her grandmother, a woman she never knew on Earth, and she spends her days on the Observation Deck where she can see her best friend and family as they continue to live without her. She even tries to make use of an "escape clause," which would allow her to return to Earth after one year. Her adjustment counselor finds her a job and soon she is helping the dogs who come to Elsewhere. She meets Owen, a young man who pines for the wife he left behind. Together they come to terms with their existence in Elsewhere. Lizzie is able to experience some of what she left behind on Earth with a growing realization that love transcends death and that regardless of the situation, you can make the most of the circumstances in which you find yourself. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2005, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 288p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Janis Flint-Ferguson
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-This coming-of-age novel by Gabrielle Zavin (Farrar, 2005) has a unique twist. Although Liz is maturing, coping with disappointments, and controlling her anger, she is getting younger. Having been killed by a hit and run driver, she now lives in Elsewhere with the grandmother who died before she was born. After death, the residents get younger until they become babies and are reborn onto Earth again. Initially mad at the driver and sad that she will not have a boyfriend and attend the prom, Liz misses her family and is sullen and depressed. Gradually, she begins to realize that life is not so bad in the hereafter. Although written in the second person, the text and the narration by Cassandra Morris draws listeners into this new world, giving them a sense of immediacy. Morris's youthful, gentle, slightly nasal voice clearly brings out Lizzie's life and frustrations, and her tone becomes harsh to show anger. For the most part, she reads quickly, almost sprightly, but at dramatic moments she slows to heighten suspense. There is no significant voice changes to differentiate between male and female characters. An excellent choice to motivate reluctant readers or just for enjoyment.-Claudia Moore, W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An unusual premise and a thoughtful treatment make Zevin's first effort at writing for young adults a success. Liz Hall is 15. She's looking forward to getting her license, enjoying helping her best friend plan for the prom and anticipating a long, full life. Her sudden death in a hit-and-run accident puts an end to her life on earth-and that's when the story begins. Zevin's creation of a believable, intriguing afterlife and her depiction of Liz's struggle to adjust to her new situation will captivate teens ready for a thought-provoking read. Love, jealousy, grief, commitment, frustration and friendship all exist "Elsewhere," making death not that different from life after all. Personal choices still make a difference and characters continue to learn and grow, despite the fact that they age backwards from the moment of their deaths. Zevin's smooth, omniscient third-person narration and matter-of-fact presentation of her imagined world carries readers along, while her deft, understated character development allows them to get to know her characters slowly and naturally. Hopeful and engaging. (Fiction. 12+)
From the Publisher
"Elsewhere is a funny, fast-paced, and fascinating novel. The concept is completely out there and yet the emotions are so weirdly realistic. I loved reading the story of Liz's life (death?)." — Carolyn Mackler, author of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things and Vegan Virgin Valentine

"A work of powerful beauty. This inventive novel slices right to the bone of human yearning, offering up an indelible vision of life and death as equally rich sides of the same coin." — Starred, Booklist

"With an intriguing and well-developed premise, thoughtful characterization, and refreshing style, Zevin's poignant novel rewards readers with a view of death that celebrates the rich complexities of being alive." — Starred, The Horn Book

"Intriguing. Surely guides readers through the bumpy landscape of strongly delineated characters dealing with the most difficult issue that faces all of us. Provides much to think about and discuss." — Starred, School Library Journal

"An unusual premise and a thoughtful treatment make Zevin's first effort at writing for young adults a success. Will captivate teens ready for a thought-provoking read. Hopeful and engaging." — Kirkus Reviews

"Funny and pensive, happy and heartbreaking. Readers from a broad range of beliefs will find this a quirky and touching exploration of the Great Beyond." — The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Fascinating. Zevin, in her first novel for young people, bends the laws of physics and biology to create an intricately imagined world." — Publishers Weekly

"A fun and thought-provoking page-turner. Readers ... will relish Zevin's lively imagination and her fast-moving plot. Buy this book for them." — VOYA

"Zevin's touch is marvelously light even as she considers profundities, easily moving among humor, wisdom and lyricism. . . .No plot synopsis can convey what a rich, wise spell this book casts." — The New York Times Book Review

"Great humor and speculation, on pets as well as people." —Chicago Tribune

"This book is amazing: centered around death without being morbid, it's about moving on with your life." —A YALSA Teen YA Galley Reader

"It's a fun read that you will keep thinking about long after you've finished the last page." —A YALSA Teen YA Galley Reader

"It's an unexpectedly 'feel good' book, and makes the reader feel like those who have died aren't ever gone." —A YALSA Teen YA Galley Reader

"This books steps out of the trend and stands on its own. What an original concept." —A YALSA Teen YA Galley Reader

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312367466
  • Publisher: Square Fish
  • Publication date: 5/28/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 56,610
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 720L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.45 (w) x 8.18 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Gabrielle Zevin is the author of award-winning books for young adults including Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, and books for adults including The Hole We’re In and Margarettown. She was also the screenwriter for Conversations with Other Women, which received an Independent Spirit Award nomination. Of her writing, The New York Times Book Review said, “Zevin’s touch is marvelously light even as she considers profundities.” A dog lover and Harvard graduate, she lives in New York City.

Biography

Gabrielle Zevin, in her own words:

"Before I liked to write, I liked to type. I remember visiting my grandmother Adele in Ponce Inlet, Florida, when I was three years old, and she had an IBM electric typewriter. I thought that this electric typewriter was about the most fascinating toy in the world -- I liked the little bell and the sounds and the feel of the keys and especially the erase key. Grandma Adele would set me up with plenty of paper and I'd be entertained for hours. I would type pages and pages, mainly nonsense, but sometimes my name or lists of words I knew. I can't remember when the nonsense changed into something more organized and storylike, it just did. (Will the monkey eventually type Shakespeare? Not yet.) The first stories I wrote were autobiographies, because, at that age, I found myself a most intriguing subject. Still, the autobiographies were largely fictionalized. I'd sometimes leave space for illustrations and sew the pages together when I was done. And for many years, this was the extent of my fiction career.

"When I was around eight, I learned how to touch-type at school, and I received a computer as a present. I started writing plays, and for many years I thought I would be a playwright. Over the years, I had studiously managed to write everything but novels -- I had been a copious pen pal, a first-class transcriptionist, a professional screenwriter (still am, actually), a teen music reviewer, a mediocre research-paper writer, and, of course, a writer of plays. So, although I was not writing novels, I was always writing something. Actually, I hadn't ever felt any particular calling to be a novelist, and I clearly remember telling a friend of mine about six months before I started work on Elsewhere that I would NEVER write a novel. And then I thought of the idea for Elsewhere, which did not seem to want to be a play or a screenplay. It kept sounding awfully novelish in my head, and though I was a little scared, I just sat in front of my computer and started to type. So it was fortunate that I liked typing, because I would be typing Liz's story for many a moon. Although I still write screenplays, I've written two other novels since writing Elsewhere. And I'm happy to report that I still like the sound of the keys."

Gabrielle Zevin has had several screenplays optioned by film studios. Gabrielle is a 2000 graduate of Harvard with a degree in English and American literature. She was born in New York and lives there still with one pug dog, Mrs. DeWinter, and her partner of ten years, director Hans Canosa.

Author biography courtesy of Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Zevin:

"I don't believe in writer's block."

"I own a pug dog, like the one in Elsewhere."

"My first novel, Elsewhere, was actually published three months after my second novel, Margarettown."

"For me, writing about the afterlife was really a way to discuss the important things about this life."

"I wish that the adults who are 'in power' cared more about what their children read. Books are incredibly powerful when we are young -- the books I read as a child have stayed with me my entire life -- and yet, the people who write about books, for the most part, completely ignore children's literature."

"One of my favorite book quotes is from The Unbearable Lightness of Being: 'We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.' "

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 24, 1977
    2. Place of Birth:
      Poughkeepsie, New York
    1. Education:
      A.B. in English and American Literature, Harvard College, 2000
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (Farrar Straus Giroux / September 2005)

Welcome to Elsewhere

"We're here!" Thandi is looking out the upper porthole when Liz enters the cabin. She jumps down from the top bunk and throws her solid arms around Liz, spinning her around the cabin until both girls are out of breath.

Liz sits down and gasps for air. "How can you be so happy when we're...?" Her voice trails off.

"Dead?" Thandi smiles a little. "So you finally figured it out."

"I just got back from my funeral, but I think I sort of knew before."

Thandi nods solemnly. "It takes as long as it takes," she says. "My funeral was awful, thanks for asking. They had me made up like a clown. I can't even talk about what they did to my hair." Thandi lifts up her braids. In the mirror, she examines the hole in the back of her head. "It's definitely getting smaller," she decides before lowering her braids.

"Aren't you at all sad?" Liz asks.

"No point in being sad that I can see. I can't change anything. And I'm tired of being in this little room, Liz, no offense."

An announcement comes over the ship's PA system: "This is your captain speaking. I hope you've enjoyed your passage. On behalf of the crew of the SS Nile, welcome to Elsewhere. The local temperature is 67 degrees with partly sunny skies and a westerly breeze. The local time is 3:48 p.m. All passagers must now disembark. This is the last and only stop."

"Don't you wonder what it's like out there?" Liz asks.

"The captain just said. It's warm with a breeze."

"No, not the weather. I meant, everything else."

"Not really. It is what it is, and all the wondering in the world isn't gonna change it." Thandi holds out her hand to help Liz off the bed. "You coming?"

Liz shakes her head. "The ship's probably super crowded. I think I'll wait here a bit, just until the halls clear out."

Thandi sits next to Liz on the bed. "I'm in no particular rush."

"No, you go on ahead," says Liz. "I want to be by myself."

Thandi looks into Liz's eyes. "Don't you stay in here forever."

"I won't. I promise."

Thandi nods. She is almost out the door when Liz calls out to her, "Why do you think they put us together anyway?"

"Beats me." Thandi shrugs. "We were probably the only two sixteen-year-old girls who died of acute head traumas that day."

"I'm fifteen," Liz reminds her.

"Guess that was the best they could do." Thandi pulls Liz into a hug. "It was certainly nice meeting you, Liz. Maybe I'll see you again someday."

Liz wants to say something to acknowledge the profound experience that she and Thandi have just shared, but she can't find the right words. "Yeah, see you," Liz replies.

As Thandi closes the door, Liz has the impulse to call out and ask her to stay. Thandi is now her only friend, except for Curtis Jest. (And Liz isn't even sure if she can count Curtis Jest a friend.) With Thandi gone, Liz feels more alone and wretched than she has ever felt before.

Liz lies down on the bottom bunk. All around her, she can hear the sounds of people leaving their cabins and walking through the ship's halls. Liz decides to wait until she can't hear any more people and only then will she venture from her cabin. In between doors opening and closing, she listens to snippets of conversation.

A man says, "It's a little embarrassing to only have these nightgowns to wear..."

And a woman, "I hope there's a decent hotel..."

And another woman, "Do you think I'll see Hubie there? Oh, how I have missed him!"

Liz wonders who "Hubie" is. She guesses he is probably dead like all the people on the Nile, dead like she is. Maybe being dead isn't so bad if you are really old, she thinks, because, as far as she can tell, most dead people are really old. So the chance of meeting new people your own age is quite good. And all the other dead people you knew from before you died might even be in the new place, Elsewhere, or whatever it was called. And maybe if you got old enough, you'd know more dead people than live ones, so dying would be a good thing, or at least wouldn't be so bad. As Liz sees it, for the aged, death isn't much different than retiring to Florida.

But Liz is fifteen (almost sixteen), and she doesn't personally know any dead people. Except for herself and the people on the trip, of course. To Liz, the prospect of being dead seems terribly lonely.

On the drive over to the Elsewhere pier, Betty Bloom, a woman prone to talking to herself, remarks, "I wish I had met Elizabeth even once. Then I could say, 'Remember that time we met?' As it is, I have to say, 'I'm your grandmother. We never met, on account of my untimely death from breast cancer.' And frankly, cancer is no way to begin a conversation. In fact, I think it might be better not to mention cancer at all. Suffice it to say, I died. At the very least, we both have that in common." Betty sighs. A car honks at her. Instead of speeding up, Betty smiles, waves, and allows the car to pass. "Yes, I am perfectly content to be driving at the speed I'm driving. If you wish to go faster, by all means go," she adds.

"I do wish I had more time to prepare for Elizabeth's arrival. It's odd to think of myself as someone's grandmother, and I don't feel very grandmotherly at all. I dislike baking, all cooking actually, and doilies and housecoats. And although I like children very much, I'm not very good with them, I'm afraid.

"For Olivia's sake, I promise not to be strict or judgmental. And I promise not to treat Elizabeth like a child. And I promise to treat her like an equal. And I promise to be supportive. And I won't ask too many questions. In return, I hope she'll like me a little bit, despite anything Olivia may have told her." For a moment, Betty falls silent and wonders how Olivia, her only child, is doing. Arriving at the pier, Betty checks her reflection in the rearview mirror and is surprised by what she sees. "Not quite old, not quite young. Very strange, indeed."

An hour passes. And then another. The halls grow quiet and then silent. Liz begins to hatch a plan. Maybe she could just be a stowaway? Eventually the boat would have to make a return trip, right? And if Liz just stays on it, maybe she could simply return to her old life. Maybe it's really that easy, Liz thinks. Maybe when she heard stories of people who had had near-death experiences, people who had flatlined and then come back, those "lucky" people were not lucky at all. They were the ones who knew enough to stay on the boat.

Liz imagines her homecoming. Everyone will say, "It's a miracle!" All the newspapers will cover it: LOCAL GIRL BACK FROM DEAD; CLAIMS DEATH IS CRUISE, NOT WHITE LIGHT, TUNNEL. Liz will get a book deal (Dead Girl by Liz Hall) and a TV movie (Determined to Live: The Elizabeth M. Hall Story) and an appearance on Oprah to promote both.

Liz sees the doorknob move, and the door begins to open. Without really thinking about it, she hides under the bed. From her position, she can see a boy of around her brother's age, dressed in a white captain's costume with gold epaulets and a matching captain's hat. He sits himself on the lower bunk and appears to take no notice of Liz.

The boy's only movement is the slight swinging of his legs. Liz notices that his feet barely reach the floor. She has a perfect view of the soles of his shoes. Someone has written L on the left one and R on the right one in black marker.

After a few minutes, the boy speaks. "I was waiting for you to introduce yourself," he says with an unusually mature voice for a child, "but I don't have all day."

Liz doesn't answer.

"I am the Captain," the boy says, "and you are not supposed to be in here."

Liz still doesn't answer. She holds her breath and tries not to make a single sound.

"Yes, girl under the bed. The Captain is speaking to you."

"The Captain of what?" Liz whispers.

"The Captain of the SS Nile, of course."

"You look a little young to be the captain."

"I assure you my experience and qualifications are exemplary. I have been the Captain for nearly one hundred years."

What a comedian, Liz thinks. "How old are you?"

"I am seven," the Captain says with dignity.

"Isn't seven a bit young to be a captain?"

The Captain nods his head. "Yes," he concedes, "I must now take naps in the afternoon. I will probably retire next year."

"I want to make the return trip," Liz says.

"These boats only go one way."

Liz peers out from under the bed. "That doesn't make sense. They have to get back somehow."

"I don't make the rules," says the Captain.

"What rules? I'm dead."

"If you think your death gives you free rein to act as you please, you are wrong," says the Captain. "Dead wrong," he adds a moment later. He laughs at his bad pun and then abruptly stops. "Let's suspend disbelief for a moment, and say you managed to take this boat back to Earth. What do you think would happen?"

Liz pulls herself out from under the bed. "I suppose I'd go back to my old life, right?"

The Captain shakes his head. "No. You wouldn't have a body to go back to. You'd be a ghost."

"Well, maybe that wouldn't be so bad."

"Trust me. I know people who've tried, and it's no kind of life. You end up crazy, and everyone you love ends up crazy, too. Take a piece of advice: get off the boat."

Liz's eyes are welling up with tears again. Dying certainly makes a person weepy, she thinks as she wipes her eyes with the back of her hand.

The Captain pulls a handkerchief out of his pocket and hands it to her. The handkerchief is made from the softest, thinnest cotton, more like paper than cloth, and is embroidered with the words The Captain. Liz blows her nose in it. Her father carries handkerchiefs. And the memory necessitates another nose blow.

"Don't cry. It's not so bad here," the Captain says.

Liz shakes her head. "It's the dust from under the bed. It's getting in my eyes." She returns the handkerchief to the Captain.

"Keep it," says the Captain. "You'll probably need it again." He stands with the perfect posture of a career military man, but his head only comes up to Liz's chest. "I trust you'll be leaving in the next five minutes," he says. "You don't want to stay." And with that, he quietly closes the cabin door behind him.

Liz considers what the strange little boy has said. As much as she longs to be with her family and her friends, she doesn't want to be a ghost. She certainly doesn't want to cause more pain to the people she loves. She knows there is only one thing to do.

Liz looks out the porthole one last time. The sun has almost set, and she passingly wonders if it is the same sun they have at home.

The only person on the dock is Betty Bloom. Although Liz has never seen Betty before, something about the woman reminds Liz of her own mother. Betty waves to Liz and begins walking toward her with purposeful, even strides.

"Welcome, Elizabeth! I've been waiting such a long time to meet you." The woman pulls Liz into a tight embrace that Liz attempts to wiggle out of. "How like Olivia."

"How do you know my mother?" Liz demands.

"I'm her mother, your Grandma Betty, but you never met me. I died before you were born." Grandma Betty embraces Liz again. "You were named for me; my full name's Elizabeth, too, but I've always been Betty."

"But how is that possible? How can you be my grandmother when you look the same age as my mother?" Liz asks.

"Welcome to Elsewhere." Grandma Betty laughs, pointing matter-of-factly to the large banner that hangs over the pier.

"I don't understand."

"Here, no one gets older, everyone gets younger. But don't worry, they'll explain all of that at your acclimation appointment."

"I'm getting younger? But it took me so long to get to fifteen!"

"Don't worry, darling, it all works out in the end. You're going to love it here."

Understandably, Liz isn't so sure.


Excerpt from ELSEWHERE by Gabrielle Zevin. Copyright © 2005 by Gabrielle Zevin. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC in 2005. All rights reserved. Visitors to this Web site are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions from the Publisher
1. Much of Liz's initial anger at finding herself in Elsewhere is that her future plans are canceled and she will age in reverse. What future events are you most looking forward to? How would you feel about aging in reverse?

2. Water is a powerful image and symbol that runs throughout the book. Why does the author elect to use water as such an essential symbol? Discuss some of the other symbols, such as Liz's stitches, the watch her father gave her, and the snow globe.

3. There are many characters who are part of the story of Elsewhere, all of them are critical to it. No characters, not even the canine ones, are minor to the story. Explore how the characters move the novel forward. How does each of them help Liz adjust to life on Elsewhere and come to understand that life on Elsewhere is something to be cherished?

4. If you were in Liz's shoes, would you spend all you time on the Observation Deck or do you think you'd acclimate? Would you mourn the loss of your life on Earth? Would you view being on Elsewhere as a liberating change and fresh start?

5. Notice the allusions made to classic and contemporary literature throughout the novel. Liz recalls a line about antique lands. Aldous Ghent prompts Liz to read Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Liz reads Charlotte's Web as she grows younger. Finally, Owen reads Tuck Everlasting to Liz when she is no longer able to read on her own. How does each address some facet of Liz's life (on Earth and Elsewhere) and experiences?

6. How does the author use humor in the novel? What examples of wordplay are evident? Is the humor intended to defuse the emotion of a serious situation or scene? Is it a way to show how Liz is becoming acclimated to life on Elsewhere?

7. Liz and all the other arrivals in Elsewhere are encouraged to find an avocation to pursue during their time there. Ghent explains to Liz that an avocation is something that makes one's soul complete (page 74). Some of the residents of Elsewhere work in avocations similar to the jobs they did on Earth; others have new ones. Marilyn Monroe becomes a psychiatrist. Curtis Jest decides to be a fisherman and comments that John Lennon is a gardener. How do the avocations of Monroe, Lennon, Owen, Betty, Curtis, and other characters reflect what they really want out of their new lives? What would you chose as an avocation?

8. This novel is divided into three separate parts and also employs a prologue and an epilogue. What purpose do the three parts serve? What important events occur in each of the three parts? Why did the author chose Liz's dog, Lucy, to narrate the prologue? How does the epilogue bring the novel not to a close but to a resolution?

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 526 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 26, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Read It!

    Liz is your typical teenage girl until she is killed in a car accident. She then finds herself on a strange boat with a one-way ticket to Elsewhere where she will begin her afterlife. All Liz wants is to be back home with her family and friends. She just can't seem to move on from the past and start her new "life" in Elsewhere.

    In her novel Elsewhere, Gabrielle Zevin weaves an intriguing story about a fascinating world called Elsewhere that will change the way you think about an afterlife. Elsewhere is the home to people who have died.
    When Liz arrives in Elsewhere she meets her Grandmother who had died of Breast Cancer before Liz was born. Liz soon discovers the Observation Decks, which allow the residents of Elsewhere to see what is happening on earth. She becomes obsessed with watching her family and friends and even tries to make contact with the living, which is illegal in Elsewhere.
    One of the things that makes this book so thought provoking is that every resident of Elsewhere ages backwards until they are babies. When they are seven days old, the babies are placed in the river to float back to earth where they are reborn. I think this an interesting twist that the author added to give the story more depth.
    Elsewhere is a great book for readers who enjoy a little bit of fantasy mixed with realistic fiction. In the end, readers will come to understand that death is not something to fear. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin is a bittersweet book full of thoughtful details.

    46 out of 47 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 6, 2010

    Incredible!!!

    Elsewhere is so emotional and riveting, I couldn't stop reading it! Its hilarious and bittersweet at parts, and the relationships the characters have are fascinating. The afterlife described in this book is intriguing. The writing flows beautifully with the story and makes the reader want MORE!

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2008

    Gee what if we could just make up our afterlife!

    I read the book, and I even read the reviews and am surprised to find so many think this is 'exactly' what happens after you die or MIGHT be. Well, I am not sure what the motive of the writer was, but introducing another myth about the afterlife to comfort people who feel a NEED to believe such fluff is harmful if it prevents them from asking more rational questions about life after death, God, etc.. Even just logically speaking, if kids really believed in Elsewhere rather than some depiction that could be demonstrated to be more reasonable and that truly prepared them for the afterlife, wouldn't Elsewhere be the WORST thing that ever happened to them?

    6 out of 49 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2010

    Best book ever

    I really liked this book because it kept me on the edge of my seat. I think the author did a really good job on this book because I enjoyed it very much. This was definitely the best book I have ever read. I recommend this book to other people like me who like fictional books. I really liked it there really should be another one!

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Well worth the read!

    In this unique vision of the afterlife, the recently deceased find themselves aboard the SS Nile, bound for Elsewhere. The thing about Elsewhere is that it's just like "here", with houses and cars and jobs, except that people age backwards, getting younger every year.
    "What happens when you hit the big zero?" you may ask.
    Let's just say that in Elsewhere, recycling is the way to go, gently down the stream, without a paddle.
    At first, fifteen year old Lizzie finds it hard to adjust to not being alive, but with the love and support of her now middle-aged grandmother, she is finally able to find her niche in death. Along the way she makes mistakes, but she also makes life-long friends, although of course that's a variable factor anywhere.
    A "coming of age" story in reverse and an intriguing concept (albeit a little over-simplified in certain aspects) this book is recommended for ages twelve and up, but definitely one to be considered.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2012

    Great

    The ending was the best. It was so well put together and happy that i felt like crying. Elswhere is about a girl named liz who dies getting hit by a cab when she is only 15 years old. After dying liz finds her self on the ship to elsewhere- a mgical land where the dead go only to be reborn again. Elswhere is an amazing book full of adventure, friendship, and even a little romance. An unforgetable storry that will remind you never to fear death. A great book that will keep you on the edge of your seat all night long.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    Made me cry

    This was one of the best books I 've ever read. It was emotional and I was practically BAWLING at the end of this book.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2012

    READ MY REVIEW!!!!

    I dont read very often ... but this book caught my eye. This book i think is a very different type of perspective. It was quite obviously written by someone with a wild and creative imagination and i think it deserves to at least be given a chance if u cant buy the book read the sample or go to a library because trust me it was worth my time. if i could give this book more stars i would. :)

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    Loooooooved it!!!!!

    Great book! Definately one of my favorites.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 31, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Terrible

    After struggling to read the first two chapters, I had a headache. A pounding, annoying headache. This book is simply lifeless, and the characters are loose, aloof and weak. There was nothing worth reading about this book.
    I forced myself to read the first chapter, though I just couldn't continue reading half of the the second. It was simply loose. The writing was weak. I see that many people like this book, thouhg the reasons I do not understand.
    The characters are kind of wierd, too. A teenager like the main character would never exist. She thought of what she was saying, and the author made her seem like an angel. No one would think that deeply into what they do.
    The story itself is odd, peculiar, and strange.
    I do not recommend this book at all, though some readers that don't like thinking too deep into books might find this appliable.

    3 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2011

    Even the beginning was confusing and boring

    Th beggining of the book was really confusing. How were u even soppused to know that she was a dog? I didnt even finish reading the sample before i ended the book and deleted it from my library. I dont even understand where the author was coming from when she made the speaker a dog. No offense bur wjoever rated this more than two stars reling has boring tasteof reading choice. But than again that is only my opinion.
    Excuse my review if anything is spelled wrong typing on Nook is quite difficult.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2008

    Book lover

    I HATED this book. HATED it. I will say it gave an interesting theory but still worse book I ever read. Please Don't read this book! I would have rated it a zero stars but there isn't a rating that low.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2007

    Eh

    When I first read the back of this book in the store, I was really excited. It was a book that was different than anything I've ever read. Okay, well I finished it in like 4 hours..but I was sooo disapointed, ugh. The book has a weird ending, puts you in a weird mood, and it's just..uh. So yeah I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2007

    A reviewer

    well, the story line is fantastic, and i wanted so bad to absolutely fall head over heals in love with this book. but i simply couldn't. Gabrielle zevin had an amazing idea when she came up with this, but sadly, i don't think she had the skill and talent to pull through with it properly. the story is written as if it should be read to a 10 year old. despite the fact that it has teen related situations, the actual writing and character info is poor. it just didn't come to life, like i felt it should have. it's the kinda story you hate to hate.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2007

    This is a REALLY bad book!

    This book was a horrible book for me. She died, then she ends up in this weird place, falls in love with a married dude, then is born again as a baby. It just doesn't make sense to me! She isn't even a very lovable character to me. I wouldn't EVER advise ANYONE to read this book! EVER!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2006

    A reviewer

    This book was poorly written, every problem was solved with a simple change of things. Everyones ends up happy. The way you age backwards is messed up too. THis is a horrible book. the only thing I liked was the very miniscule amount of romance in the book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2014

    I had high hopes for this book. It was described by other review

    I had high hopes for this book. It was described by other reviews as emotional, well-written, fantastic...all of which are not the adjectives I would use to describe Elsewhere.
    The concept of aging backwards is creative, but there are logic holes. For example, why can't Liz get her driver's license if she's still maturing mentally as opposed to the 7-year-old who drives by once? 
    Liz and Owen's relationship. Ignoring the whole unreasonable age dynamic others before me have pointed out, their story is lackluster. Owen first takes note of Liz because, apparently, she was "different" from others (hmmm...only the Most Cliche Reason for Taking Interest ever in fiction) in that she used the Well to tell her father about a sweater as opposed to more important things. Owen and Emily's reactions to each other at the pier were pretty flat for a married couple who had been separated for ten years and hadn't stopped thinking about each other. And then there's the matter of how unrealistic and convenient the events leading up to Liz/Owen's reunion was...
    There's a disappointingly lack of emotion. Part of the reason is the writing style; part of it is Liz; part of it is the story line. If I recall correctly, the climax of the story was about five pages and made me raise my eyebrow at the end. At no point did I particularly feel for Liz nor any of the other characters. Only one part in the entire book provoked a reaction from me, and that was a smile at the part with the "Liz For Now" tattoo on his buttocks.
    Whyyy did there have to be talking dogs? I get that Elsewhere is a utopia, a place from a fantasy, everything we'd idealize the afterlife to be, but the talking dogs were comical at best, and not in a good way. This book is geared towards YA, not eight-year-olds. Also, as a teenager, I found Liz's (and all of the characters', for that matter) style of speaking unrealistic. She speaks like how people write, and people--especially teenagers--do not speak like how they write. The occasional burst of teenage slang was a little pitiful, too.
    Elsewhere had an interesting premise and a lot of potential, which is the reason why I picked up the book in the first place. However, Ms. Zevin's style falls flat for me and I couldn't get into the plot, Liz, or any of the other characters as well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2013

    AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING

    READ IT READ IT READ IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2013

    Perfect

    Could you imagine dying and getting younger? I couldnt. Elsewhere is a must read book ! I would even read it to my kids if i had someone ! Read it !

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2013

    Amazing

    This book was really well written. You just connect with the characters. I loved it, would definitely read it again!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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