Dear reader, life is too short for crap books.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Fifteen

Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin

The Goods: Liz Hall awakens on an ocean liner to discover that she is dead and on her way to a place called Elsewhere where people age backwards (which makes getting a tattoo pretty much pointless), choose avocations instead of vocations, and dogs can talk (turns out, they could on earth, too). While this all might seem nice to a recently departed elderly person, to tell a fifteen-year-old that she's never going to be anything but a child... well, that's just disheartening.

Thoughts: The way Zevin unfolds the detailed and fully imagined world of Elsewhere is half the pleasure of reading the book, and giving away any more of the particulars here would be like making a six-year-old watch a PowerPoint presentation outlining how Quidditch is played. However, this is less a book about what happens when you die than it is a book about what life means. It's a quick read, but miraculously, the big ideas aren't shortchanged or rushed. On top of that, the story is genuinely good, and not just a vehicle for Zevin's philosophies. Echoes of Milan Kundera are obvious, and no doubt intentional. This being, however, a YA novel, there is much less infidelity and fewer mediatations on shit.

If you like...: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, The Giver by Lois Lowry, or anytime Death shows up in the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman, this book is for you.

No comments: