Release Date: May 15, 2007
Publisher: Square Fish
Genre: YA Fiction
The Story: 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 practice.
Elsewhere is where fifteen-year-old 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?
My Review: Elsewhere is a touching and emotional novel with a believable main character. Liz wakes up on a cruise ship that is headed for Elsewhere - otherwise known as the afterlife. It takes Liz some time to finally believe that she is dead and it's easy to sympathize with her. She feels cheated that she will never turn sixteen, which is made even worse when she arrives in Elsewhere and finds her grandmother, Betty, who had passed away before Liz was even born. To her surprise, her grandmother appears to be the same age as her mother and she finds out that in Elsewhere you age backward from the time of your death until you are a baby and are then sent back to earth to start over. Liz's new friends, Thandi and Owen, are lovable and they provide Liz with the support she needs to live her life to the fullest.
At first Liz refuses to let go of her life back on earth and becomes obsessed with watching her family and friends. She becomes depressed and her grandmother is at a loss as to how to help her. Liz eventually decides to start moving on and at the insistence of her grandmother finally chooses a profession as a counselor at the Division of Domestic Animals. Her job entails explaining the basics of Elswhere to recently deceased animals. There she makes a new friend in Sadie, a dog who quickly claims Liz as her own. This is the only part of the novel that I struggled to relate with.
Elsewhere is a sweet story about growing up while getting younger. I loved the author's take on the afterlife and found myself hoping this could actually be true. Who wouldn't love to die an old lady and gradually get younger every year? Overall, I really enjoyed Elsewhere but there were definitely parts I just couldn't get into.