Book Review of Elsewhere

Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Genres: Children's Books, Reference
Book Type: Paperback

It's been a really long time since I've read a YA book with such a refreshing premiseno vampires, complicated love triangles, or anything remotely Hunger Games-esque here! Now, Elsewhere was published way before the current of "trendy" YA fiction began to flow, which stresses its originality, and its purpose on bookshelves today.

I love the take on reincarnation that's detailedit's fascinating, imaginative, and immersed me completely from page one! Zevin is also highly accomplished at creating relatable, completely memorable characters. The limited third-person point of view makes Liz rather distant, but she's still easy to appreciate. She's as neurotic and elaborate as any adolescent is: impressively mature at times, but frustratingly childish at others. I feel she's a bit naïve for a nearly-sixteen-year-old; don't get me wrong: her characterization is amazing, but her superficial portrayal is a little contradicting at times. As a teenage girl, though, she is perfectly accurate. Zevin couldn't have depicted the conflicting feelings and angsts of the modern teenager any better.

Elsewhere is a feel-good novel that keeps you tense and uneasy while reading, but leaves you both breathless and sighing in relief by the turn of the last page. It offers brilliant perspective on experiencing things to the fullest and never underestimating those around you who love you. Through Liz's journey in Elsewhere, spending her life in reverse, I learned that life isn't measured in hours and minutes; it's the quality that matters, not the length. And we, as people, grow with those experiences, not with age.

Young adults will devour this book, and better yet, parents will approve of it because of its tasteful, positive portrayal of life's decisions and values. Zevin's style is evocative, dreamy, and almost transcendentI'm definitely eager to try some of her other books now.

With a dash of charming romance, wry humor, and life-loving sentiments, Elsewhere engages readers into an afterlife where people falsely are under the impression that they know what will be JUST because they know the amount of time they have left to "live." But like I mentioned, it's experiences that matter, not time; this secret, Liz and readers discover, in the most delightful and adventurous of ways. In the town of Elsewhere, Liz has the chance to live again, to live as she never got to on Earth. To fall in love. To get a job. To know the part of her family she has never known. And she's going to have to make the most of it because even though it may not be clear all the time, good things happen everyday, even when bad things happen first.

Pros: Well-explored characters // Perfect ending // I was cheering at every one of Zevin's plot choices // Lyrical // Stylistically flawless // Plot is incredibly smart, entertaining, and touching // Very easy // Flows smoothly // Unpredictable // Not a high thriller, but its twists and turns are equally unnerving // Romance is perfectly placed // Deep in message of youth, forgiveness, and the meaning of life // Creative premise // Fresh ideas // Sweet, memorable analogies // Owen ♥_♥ // Curtis ♥_♥

Cons: Not particularly suspenseful... I was glued to the pages, but not exactly dying to know what happened next // Liz is frustrating at times, but I guess it's all part of her character!

Love: "The summer air is thick with perfume from Betty's flowers. The scent, Liz thinks, is sweet and melancholy. A bit like dying, a bit like falling in love."

Verdict: Elsewhere is a complex, probing novel wrapped up in a minimalistic, lyrical package of prose. In the vein of The Five People You Meet in Heaven, this book is haunting, affecting, and deeply resonant, and is sure to be a hit among middle-grade and teenage readers (ages 11-16), but even better, among adults as well; the universality makes it all the more impressive. Hilarious in some parts and alarming in others, Gabrielle Zevin's surprisingly and pleasantly touching otherworldly story will make you fall in lovewith your friends and family, with your life, and with yourselfand satisfy you completely.

9 out of 10 hearts (5 stars): Loved it! This book has a spot on my favorites shelf.

Source: Purchased.