Liz is almost sixteen when she’s hit by a cab and killed. Now, she’s on a cruise boat called the SS Nile, headed for Elsewhere, where she will progressively age backwards until she returns to earth in baby form.
Cross Benjamin Button with Beetlejuice, minus the wackiness, and you get Elsewhere. I think it was quite bold of Zevin to write a book about the afterlife this way. For some reason, while I’d really looked forward to this book, I hadn’t actually realized what it was about, and the plot caught me unawares. For awhile, I was a little thrown off, but by the end, I enjoyed it.
I’ve debated my feelings on this. On the one hand, Elsewhere felt a little shallow in its emotional depth. It had animals that could talk (a big no-no for me usually), and was a little too fantastical for my tastes. Plus, I just have issues with anything about the afterlife being put down in sure terms, no matter what the interpretation is. On the other hand, though, I might have enjoyed this much more if I hadn’t just finished reading Wild Roses, which was like the epitome of emotional depth. This fell completely flat in Caletti’s shadow. I didn’t really connect with the characters or their struggles, and while I thought the message was good, I would have liked more depth.
This is the second book I’ve read by Zevin. Not long ago, I read Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, and honestly, I think I liked that one better. It wasn’t perfect, but it did seem to fit my tastes better. I do think I’ll read more of her work in the future. I might even read this one again when I haven’t just read a most-magnificent-book-all-year type book. I’ll probably enjoy it better then.