Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin

Zevin, Gabrielle (2005). Elsewhere, New York: Square Fish. 288 pages.

Summary and Evaluation: When Liz wakes up one morning sailing in the S.S. Nile, she assumes that she is still dreaming. In reality, she is dead and sailing to the afterlife, an island called Elsewhere, where she will live and work much like on Earth; only Liz will age backwards. At first, Liz struggles to cope with the reality that she is dead and separated from her family and friends, but with help from her grandmother and a few friends, particularly a young man named Owen, Liz comes to understand the importance of both of her lives. This fantasy reads very close to realistic fiction. Life in Elsewhere is very similar to life on Earth. People go to work everyday, shop at the mall, and have romantic relationships. The only difference is that animals and humans speak with one another and eventually everyone will become young again. Except for an out-of-place incident with some mermaids, there were no mythical creatures or great expeditions. For this reason, I enjoyed this fantasy novel. It puts an unusual and comical spin on the afterlife and reincarnation. How many people could imagine their grandmother hooking up with a rock star in the afterlife?

I could have used a little more description in some places. When Owen cooks for Liz there is an allusion that the food is mediocre, but no description of the food itself. When Owen saves the day all Liz says is "I'm pissed at you!" There is no resolution to the argument and there's no telling what actually solved the problem. At these points the scenarios end abruptly. Liz swims to the bottom of the ocean to make contact with her family, but the lack of description make it impossible to know what "The well" looks like. It is almost as if the author didn't know herself. Despite the lack of descriptions, the premise was fresh and at times the book was very emotional and funny.

Booktalk Hook: One of the biggest questions in life is "What happens after I die?" This book presents a perspective answer to that question. My booktalk would start with, "If you died tomorrow what do you think would happen?" Then I would tell how Liz died and the new life she has to face.

No comments: