Book review: elsewhere

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Author:Gabrielle Zevin
Reading Level (Conceptual):Children 12 and up
Reading Level (Vocabulary):Children 8 and up
Year of publication:2005

Poor Liz Hall, she is killed in a hit-and-run car crash when she is only 15, and when she wakes up, she's on a ship traveling to Elsewhere, the world after death.

On the ship she meets the 6 year old captain who explains that once you die you go to Elsewhere and live backwards until you're a baby, then you sail back to Earth to begin a new life.

Also on the ship, Liz meets a dead superstar and another girl named Thandi who's around Liz's age, with whom she becomes friends. Everyone else on the ship is an old person.

At first in Elsewhere, Liz is angry and upset that her life had to end when she wasn't even 16 yet. She never got to fall in love or learn to drive, or anything!

But as her backwards life progresses, Liz meets a boy named Owen Welles, and she starts to feel like she could enjoy her not-life.

This book is not adventure-packed like some books, but it is in the mind of a girl, and with her you go through all her problems, like a boyfriend, a dog, sadness, happiness, and other things that a teenager girl would go through.

I enjoyed this book very much, because you really get to know the characters and the thoughts of Liz sound like what she'd actually think. This is a new version of what happens after life that I've never heard before, and I think that it's very interesting.

Before my parents let me read this they were worried that it would be too scary for me, Liz being dead and all, but it isn't like that at all. The book is somewhat sad and dreary in the beginning but it's not like it would give nightmares or something bad like that. This book really put new thoughts in my mind, new thoughts that weren't bad.

I recommend this book for maybe 6th or 7th graders and up, even though I read it at a somewhat younger age.

--Fizzy, age 12

Parent's note:

Yes, it is somewhat maudlin. The point is that even a life lived backward and without fear of death can be lived badly or well. The choice is up to every living person.

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