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ELSEWHERE

May 16, 2013

I was meandering through the bookstore, not really in need of buying a new book or magazine, just enjoying the pleasure of looking, feeling and smelling the books.  Not to mention the aroma of the Starbucks coffee in the corner!  I came across a table labeled, “HIGH SCHOOL SUMMER READING SUGGESTIONS.”  My eyes instantly focused on a cover  picture of a snow globe, with a cruise ship nestled in amongst the glittery falling snow.  I was reminded of a stash of beautiful snow globes that I had collected over many years, and through my own negligence lost them all.  One should have known that when you move to Wisconsin, you do not store fragile snow globes in the attic of an unheated building. The water froze, the glass cracked, and I was left with bases and their intricate little sculptures, but no more free falling snow!

“ELSWHERE,” by Gabrielle Zevin; “After 15 year old Liz Hall is hit by a taxi and killed, she finds herself in a place that is both like and unlike earth, where she must adjust to her new status and figure out how to live. How can Liz let go of the only life she has ever known and embrace a new one? Is it possible that a life lived in reverse is no different than a life lived forward?”

OK, I was intrigued, I have found myself reading heaven-related books lately, and this looked interesting, and yet light and easy reading.  Perfect for reading while on a plane to Houston. The book never referred to heaven or God, this was not about the heaven that I was taught in my Catholic school upbringing.  But I was totally drawn into the author’s vivid imagination.  At times very cheesey, at times laugh out loud funny!  I tried to ignore the “look” from my husband in the seat next to me when I was laughing.

There were times, I totally wondered, “what if?” As Liz is reunited with family who had gone before her, and her struggles to communicate with family she left behind.  Clearly trying to understand and cope with two worlds.  Spoiler alert here:  In “Elsewhere,” the residents age in reverse from the age of their death, until they are babies again and then are reborn.  A complete circle of life.  I kept comparing “Elsewhere” to Alzheimer’s disease, reversing in age. An 80 year old person becoming child-like, eventually needing to be spoon-fed and back in diapers again, mumbling and chattering, very few understandable words. Totally trapped between two worlds.  Is Alzheimer’s disease, “Elsewhere,” but on earth with loved ones around?

I don’t believe this comparison was the author’s intent, but it is my own personal take from the story.  Now when people ask the repeated question, “How is your Mom?” I could just simply say, “Elsewhere,” but they wouldn’t understand what I meant, but does anyone really understand any other answer that I can give?  Yes, I do believe, “Elsewhere” is a very appropriate answer.

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