Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin is the story of the “life” of a girl named Liz after her death at age 15. After she is hit by a car on earth Liz wakes up on the boat to Elsewhere, the parallel of earth where everyone gets younger and younger until going back to earth as a baby.
It's a unique concept and a great hook. I've read other afterlife stories before, but none with quite this angle. What's good about this book is more than just the idea, however; it's moving because of what Liz chooses to do with this life she is given.
When she gets to Elsewhere as an almost-16-year-old she finds it terribly unjust that she has to relive all her years in reverse without ever growing up or getting married or having children. She misses her life. Though her death is hard for her family back on earth it is even harder for Liz herself; they lost a daughter and a sister, but she lost everything. She becomes obsessed with watching over the people she left behind, and reading her struggle it's hard not to imagine doing the same thing myself in her place.
Throughout the book Zevin handles questions of loss and purpose with grace. Liz finally begins to accept was has happened, and slowly comes to see that her life in Elsewhere can be just as full as her life on earth. She chooses to be happy.
And her choice makes the book very satisfying. There is a feeling of completion at the end. The final chapters are full of tender, bittersweet moments as Liz gets younger, surrounded by the people she's come to love.
I recommend this book because it is a great reminder that no matter where we might find ourselves in life, there is always a chance to make the best of what we've got: we only have to make the choice.