written by Gabrielle Zevin
The idea behind Elsewhere is a fascinatingly unique one. It is set in a world where one dies and then ages backward in a land called Elsewhere, until they are babies set to be reborn in the real world. So the natural assumption I had was that this would be a tragically depressing book--but surprisingly enough, it was absolutely NOT! The progression of time is done in such a great way that there are no periods of time when you think to yourself that it's going too quickly or too slowly, it all just moves naturally along. I was surprised by how much was in this book--it wasn't just a girl getting over her death, there were elements of mystery, suspense, romance, plot twists where you'd least expect them. All of this is tied up with what could have been a horribly sad ending, but is short and sweet and leaves no room for tears other than happy ones. What surprised me most was the elegance found in the symbolism. I can tell you with all honesty that before this, I had never found a book in which I enjoyed the symbolism or thought it contributed to the well-roundedness of a book, and I probably never will again. The symbolism (Charlotte's Web, Tuck Everlasting, the Nile river, etc.) is actually relevant and easy to find and understand. It actually makes sense, adds to the story, and I have never encountered that before. Well done, Ms. Zevin!