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 practiceElsewhere is where fifteenyearold 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

10 thoughts on “Elsewhere

  1. Kim Kim says:

    You know what sucks?

    When you get 53 (YES, FIFTY THREE) pages into a book and realize that you've read it before. That blows.

    You know what doesn't suck?

    You really like said book. I mean, it's been a good 8 months, and I was still hazy about the plot throughout the whole book, but it's SUCH a good story that I didn't mind kinda knowing the plot.

    Liz is 15 and is a hit and run victim. She wakes up on the S.S. Nile (cute, huh?) and it takes her a bit but she finds out she's died and then ends up in Elsewhere. I think Elsewhere could be whatever your spiritual affiliation wants it to be. Limbo, Heaven, squatting at St. Pete's doorstep, a Quentin Tarantino filmfest....whatever...

    Here's the kicker.. in Elsewhere you age backwards until you're a baby again and then you're returned to Earth. The ultimate in recycling, huh?

    Now, don't you think that that is a total rip off? I mean, okay... you're just starting to feel out who you are and then you die and everything goes in reverse. So, you hardly have time to define yourself and by the time you're 21, you're really nine... WTF?

    Gabrielle Zevin does a wonderful job with this plot, the characters you meet are well developed and the story made me start crying on public transportation. The last three chapters... racking sobs, I tell you... Even the second time around.
    My one peeve is the clumsy use of present tense structure. It may be just me, let me rephrase that... it probably isn't clumsy, but it distracted me from the narrative and once I noticed that distraction it was hard to avoid.

    Okay, I have to share this... this is when the eyes started to tear and the lips started to tremble:

    There will be other lives. There will be other lives for nervous boys with sweaty palms,for bittersweet fumblings in the backseats of cars, for caps and gowns in royal blue and crimson, for mothers clasping pretty pearl necklaces around daughters' unlined necks, for your full name read aloud in an auditorium, for brand-new suitcases transporting you to strange new people in strange new lands. And there will be other lives for unpaid debts, for one-night stands, for Prague and for Paris, for painful shoes with pointy toes, for indecisions and revisions.

    And none of that stuff made me weepy or sentimental when it happened to me, but you bet I'll be thinking like this when my daughter hits that age.

    So, if I forget that I read this, please don't remind me... I wouldn't mind another go around.

  2. Rick Riordan Rick Riordan says:

    Fascinating, a well-imagined, well-written YA novel. A fifteen-year-old girl dies and finds herself in Elsewhere, where the deceased age backwards until they become babies and return to the Earth for their next lives. It's a quick read, but wow -- it made me appreciate my life, my family, and love. The potentially heavy subject matter is counterbalanced with some great humor. Highly recommended.

  3. Tatiana Tatiana says:

    A rather disappointing book. Having read and liked Zevin's Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, I expected Elsewhere to be a book of the same high quality. No luck.

    Elsewhere is not strictly a bad book. It raises an always interesting question - what happens when you die? In the book you move to Elsewhere where you age back (instead of getting older you get younger) while growing up mentally, until you become a baby and then you are sent back to earth to live another life. The book is about coming to terms with your death, about enjoying your life no matter what strange form it is in.

    Yes, the book has plenty of great ideas, but they are wrapped up in a very dull and childish plot with a lot of teenage whining. Even the romance rings false - you basically have a 35-year old man (in a body of a 17-old boy) fall in love with a 15-year old girl. There are talking dogs and mermaids, and Elsewhere itself is a rather boring utopia-like place. Ultimately the story is just extremely juvenile. I think if you take out references of sexuality from Elsewhere it will make a great read for 10-year olds (to spark that conversation about afterlife), but as a young adult novel it falls short.

    Reading challenge: #15.

  4. Phrynne Phrynne says:

    Firstly I have to admit I read this because I needed an author whose name started with z for a challenge. This demonstrates clearly how good challenges can be for getting us to read books we might never otherwise come across. I was very happy that I read this book which is aimed at a Young Adult audience but is totally readable by any age.
    The story takes place in the afterlife, which is a place called Elsewhere. As a reader you need to suspend belief at this stage because the whole theory behind this place is totally lacking in logic, particularly the bits about babies and talking dogs. So put facts aside and just enjoy the fun. I liked the characters, the world building (just ignore the bits that obviously do not work) and the story. The author writes well and delivers some quite emotional moments.
    Worth a read as long as you do not try to credit it with more depth than it actually has.

  5. Gregory Baird Gregory Baird says:

    Maybe if I were still thirteen I would think differently, but Elsewhere reads like a Hallmark movie of the week. It's sappy and hopelessly predictable. While Zevin's depiction of the afterlife is kind of creative, it's mostly confounding (turns out death is just as routine and dull as everyday life ... except that dogs talk). Her jokes either fall flat or induce a lengthy groan, but are never really amusing. And while Zevin can occasionally turn a phrase in an interesting way, for the most part her prose is awkward and downright clunky: Although she tries to be very quiet, she loses her grip on the last drawer and it slams shut. This has the unfortunate effect of waking the sleeping girl again. Man, I hate when a drawer slams shut because I lost my grip on it! In the end, Elsewhere falls very flat.

  6. Melanie Melanie says:

    The whole relationship (if you can even call it that) between Liz and Owen frustrated me. How could Owen's marriage have been so happy if after only two weeks of being reunited with his wife he didn't want her anymore? Argh!

    The story moves quickly from one event to the next without setting anything up or wrapping anything up. It is hard to care about the characters or events this way.

  7. Grace Grace says:

    I loved it from the first page till the end. The story idea itself was captivating; living life backwards.
    Liz died at the young age of 16 and found herself in a place called “elsewhere”, where you don’t grow old but younger till you are born again as a baby. She was furious, that she didn’t get to fall in love, get her driver’s licence, and even grow boobs...one thing led to another and she found that living life backwards wasn’t so different. It is full of unknowns as much as growing older, she experienced love, devotion and even insecurities about the future.
    I love how the story unfolded, it was very entertaining, I really enjoyed it.

  8. Eshusdaughter Eshusdaughter says:

    What is the story? Elsewhere is an idea spun into a book and then left floundering as the author seeks to fill pages. There is no story here - no cohesive plot that moves the thing forward. The main character, Lizzy, dies at fifteen and is transported to Elsewhere, a land where all people who die go. In Elsewhere you live just like on Earth, only you age backward. Cool concept and idea and there are so many avenues the author could have taken this! Instead she enumerates on her world a little and that is about it. Lizzy is not a likeable character and comes across as a whiny brat that is so self involved. And YET almost everyone still loves her and heck falls in love with her. Lizzy is the worst kind of Mary-sue, petulant and self-involved, the center of the world and all around amazing OMG wonderful gee I'll put up with her crap cause she's so awesome gal. Ugh. The writing was clunky and description lacking in luster. I can find nothing to recommend this book other than to say it was a cool idea to start with.

  9. Jennifer Wardrip Jennifer Wardrip says:

    Reviewed by Me for TeensReadToo.com

    Stories about the Afterlife have always appealed to me. There are thousands upon thousands of interpretations out there about what, exactly, happens to a person after they die. ELSEWHERE is a new spin on an old topic, but it manages to bring emotion, realism, and entertainment to something that is, in most circumstances, a very depressing situation. To me, ELSEWHERE is a combination of Mitch Albom's THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN and Alice Sebold's THE LOVELY BONES, two other wonderful books dealing with death and the Afterlife. ELSEWHERE goes beyond those two books, however, taking readers on a journey into a land so much like Earth, and yet so very, very different.

    Fifteen-year old Elizabeth Liz Lizzie Marie Hall has found herself in ELSEWHERE after dying in a bicycle-meets-taxi accident. After taking a long ride on the SS Nile, Liz has finally realized that she's not in a dream after all, but really, truly dead. When she arrives on Elsewhere, she meets her maternal grandmother, Betty, for the very first time. A woman who died at fifty from breast cancer, Betty is now a woman in her thirties--one of the first surprises Liz is in for is the fact that, on Elsewhere, lives are lived backward from the age of a person's death. Needless to say, this thought depresses Liz. She'll never be sixteen, never have a Massachusetts driver's license, never go to the prom or graduate from high school or go to college or get married. The only thing she has to look forward to is growing younger, until she returns to being an infant and is sent back to Earth to be born again.

    Liz spends her first month on Elsewhere spending all of her time--and her grandmother's eternims, the currency used there--to watch her family, friends, and classmates back on Earth. She's soon a regular at the OD's, or Observation Decks, watching life on Earth pass her by. She's upset that her best friend, Zooey, didn't attend her funeral. Her parents are inconsolable, her younger brother, Alvy, tells jokes to get through the day, and her dog, Lucy, refuses to accept that Liz isn't coming back.

    It takes awhile, but Liz finally realizes that spending hours upon hours at the OD's is not helping her adjust to life on Elsewhere. She finds a new friend in Owen, one of the detectives in charge of keeping the inhabitants of Elsewhere away from the Well, where contact with people on Earth is possible, but illegal. She once again befriends Thandi, a young girl killed on Earth by a stray bullet, who was her bunkmate on the SS Nile. She gets closer to grandmother Betty, finally takes a job in the Division of Domestic Animals helping recently departed pets find new owners, and seems to be finding a place on Elsewhere.

    I really loved this story. One of the most delightful things in ELSEWHERE is the animals, especially the dogs. Liz, a natural at the language of Canine, is able to interpret for her four-legged friends, and finally understand everything they have to say. I can't truly imagine aging backwards, but Gabrielle Zevin has managed to make a truly believable story that is realistic, entertaining, and emotional, all at the same time. This is definitely a recommended read, and in all honesty, I would love to visit the land of Elsewhere again in the future.

  10. Amerie Amerie says:

    First read in March 2014
    Reread in July 2016

    Just as magical, if not more so, as the first time I read it. Probably a novel I will reread every few years or so.