Rated Reads


by Gabrielle Zevin

Rated: Mild

Liz hasn’t even turned 16 yet when she suddenly dies. It takes a while for her to figure out that she’s even dead, and when she does realize it, she is not at all happy. She misses her parents and her little brother and her best friend. She is angry that she’ll never get her driver’s license or go to prom or graduate high school. Her life really had yet to start, and here she is dead.

Liz learns that she’ll be “living” in Elsewhere for about 15 years, aging backward until it’s time for her to go back to Earth and start a new life. She is met in Elsewhere by her grandmother Betty, who died before Liz was born. Rather than being a happy reunion, it’s just another adjustment to live with someone she’s never met.

This charming novel follows Liz’s entire existence in Elsewhere, as she struggles to adjust and try to accept the hand she’s been dealt and even to find happiness. There is even the possibility for love there, as she finds out, and it’s just as new and confusing as it would have been on Earth.

Elsewhere is a sweet book that delves into big issues like death, missing loved ones, and finding happiness in life, however it is led, from the point of view of a teenage girl. It is poignant and touches the heart (and tear ducts, occasionally) without being cloying. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Rated: Mild, for mild language, a few uses of moderate language, and some uses of the Lord’s name in vain. There is a reference to a minor character losing her virginity, and the main character wonders sometimes about the idea of sex in general as it relates to her and her life, but no details. There is a reference to a character using “the f-word,” but it isn’t actually spelled out, and one time that it’s “almost” said, with the first couple of letters spelled out.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • Elsewhere
  • by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Rated: Mild
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: