Sunday, January 22, 2006


Zevin, Gabrielle. 2005. ELSEWHERE. New York. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0374320918 [Suggested Grade Levels 8 and up]

After a tragic accidental death, Lizzie struggles to come to terms with the fate she has been handed. By using the education and experience she receives during her time in Elsewhere, she better understands the true meaning of life and death.

Lizzie, a 15-year-old head-trauma victim wakes to find herself aboard a cruise ship populated with elderly passengers. The ship eventually docks at Elsewhere, and she is greeted by her deceased grandmother. Missing from this “heaven” are the pearly gates and fluffy clouds; rather, Zevin’s strikingly original vision of the afterlife does not fit the stereotypical imagery typically painted. Here, the dead have very similar “lives” as they did before; they work, maintain relationships, and find love. Zevin’s treatment of Lizzie’s emotions is notable and authentically rendered; though she is with family, Lizzie finds herself full of despair and anger about being cheated of a full life and remarks, "You mean I'll never go to college or get married or get big boobs or live on my own or get my driver's license or fall in love?" Consumed with clinging to her former existence, she spends her time keeping tabs on her family and friends on Earth through magical coin-operated telescopes. Eventually coming to terms with the fate she has been handed, she accepts a job assignment, forges a relationship with her grandmother, and finds romance before journeying down “the River” to be reborn. Poignant and philosophical, ELSEWHERE provides readers an opportunity to reflect on time and change as it redefines what being “alive” really means.

After reading ELSEWHERE, teens could create a mixed-media art project which visually represents how their ideal afterlife would look.

Other stories told from the afterlife:
Crutcher, Chris. THE SLEDDING HILL. ISBN 0060502436
Griffin, Adele. WHERE I WANT TO BE. ISBN 0399237836
Whitcomb, Laura. A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT. ISBN 061858532X

By Rose Brock

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