15-year-old Liz Hall wakes up one morning on a boat with no idea how she got there or why she’s wearing pajamas. The last thing she remembers is riding to her bike to the mall to help her best friend shop for prom dresses. Where are her parents? Her little brother? And why are there so many old people around?
Turns out, Liz is dead. She’s not on Earth anymore, but in Elsewhere. Things are very different in this place. Now instead of celebrating her 16th birthday and applying for college, she’s living with a grandmother she’s never met and getting a job helping animals adjust to being dead. Liz misses her old life and has difficulty adjusting to this new place. To make matters worse, she may never see her family again because in Elsewhere, everyone ages backwards. Once Liz becomes a baby again, she will be sent back to Earth for a new life. But, Liz wants to get older, not younger, and she must grieve the life she lost and come to terms with the one she has now. Can she live this life differently than she lived her last?
Zevin fills this book with likeable characters. Liz’s grandma is lively and patient as she deals with being a new grandma to a 15-year-old. A 20-something rock star is surprisingly approachable and helpful to Liz. Liz herself develops from petulant to mature as she learns how to move forward. Overall, Zevin’s imaginative story on the afterlife is an interesting take on what it means to deal with loss.
For works by Gabrielle Zevin, click here.