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Elsewhere tells the story of a fifteen year old girl, Elizabeth 'Liz' Hall, who wakes up on a boat headed towards the afterlife. Liz eventually learns that she has died by being hit with a car and is now in the afterlife known as Elsewhere, where she will age backwards until she is a baby and will then be reincarnated back in the real world. Liz doesn't take this well because it means she'll never grow up. She'll never get a chance to get a driver's license, never go to prom or college, and never get married. But Liz soon learns that she may just get a chance to have a life yet...

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Compare Angel Beats!, an anime with a similar take on the afterlife.


Tropes:

  • Afterlife Angst: Liz goes through this after she dies after being hit by a car and gets sent to the afterlife, Elsewhere. In Elsewhere you can watch back on earth through binoculars, so for the first few months, Liz becomes obsessed with watching her family. She later realizes she can't spend the rest of her time there doing this and things start to improve after she gets a job and meets a guy named Owen(Who's physically 17 at the time Liz meets him) but after Owen's wife Emily dies herself and comes to Elsewhere it causes Owen and Liz's romantic relationship to fall apart. Liz hits her Despair Event Horizon and volunteers to go back to Earth, even though it would mean she lost all her memories of what she was before and was reincarnated. She regrets this at the last second and manages to swim back to Elsewhere, where she then continues to live a much happier afterlife having worked through her issues about her early death.
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  • Afterlife Express: The S.S. Nile which Liz wakes up on at the start of the book.
  • An Aesop: Life sometimes can't be judged on how long it is but the quality of it and it's never too late to start living.
  • And Your Reward Is Infancy: This is what happens to all who enter Elsewhere. The epilogue ends with Liz being born as baby to another mother to start a new life.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: Zigzagged: Liz doesn't attend her own funeral exactly but she does get to watch it through some binoculars that let her watch earth.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Liz isn't able to come back to life and her friends and family have to go through the rest of their lives without her but Liz is able to say a proper goodbye to her brother Alvy and she learns to make a new life in Elsewhere and gets to do a lot of the things she hoped to do in her life on Earth including finding love. The book ends with Liz going back to earth as a baby reborn into a new family with no memories but a new chance at living a full life.
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  • Bookends: The book starts with Liz's death. It ends with her rebirth.
  • Call to Agriculture: Former rock star Curtis Jest becomes a fisherman.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: Somewhat, in that Elsewhere is portrayed as having laws and rules like Earth.
  • Dead to Begin With: Liz begins the story already dead.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: An interesting case where it happens to the main protagonist and at the very beginning of the book where Liz's death causes her to go on a journey of enlightenment and maturity in the afterlife.
  • Fictional Currency: The currency of Elsehwere is called Eternims.
  • Fond Memories That Could Have Been: At one point near the start, Liz imagines a scenario where she woke from her coma and had a happy reunion with her family and Zooey. She got to college early and met a nice boy who she would like to marry...but then Betty snaps Liz out of it.
  • Foreshadowing: At one point Liz runs into a four-year-old girl. Liz tries to ask her if she died when she was four or if she died when she was older and aged down to four but the girl doesn't seem to understand what Liz is asking her. Later when Liz is four herself she's having trouble fully remembering her life before Elsewhere.
  • Forgiveness: Liz forgives the man who accidentally killed her in one of the last chapters.]
  • Forgiveness Requires Death: A literal example. In order for Liz to forgive the man who ran her over he has to die and come to Elsewhere first. When he does he and Liz have a heart to heart.
  • Grow Old with Me: Inverted. Because of the way aging works in Elsewhere Liz and Owen grow young together.
  • Merlin Sickness: As mentioned, part and parcel of "living" in Elsewhere.
  • Message in a Bottle: An atypical example. Messages in bottles are apparently the only way to send messages from Earth to Elsewhere. This becomes important when as her wedding approaches Zooey sends an invite to Liz as what's implied to be a coping mechanism. Fortunately, since she chose to send it in a bottle Liz gets it so she and Owen are able to attend Zooey's wedding from a distance.
  • Mundane Afterlife: With the exception of aging backwards the afterlife is almost identical to real life.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • When the man who accidentally killed her dies and comes to Elsewhere he and Liz get a chance to talk. The man apologies saying he's lived with the guilt all his life but felt he couldn't turn himself in because he had a family who needed him. Liz finds it in her heart to forgive him though.
    • It's implied that not going to Liz's funeral was this for Zooey.
  • No Antagonist: Liz is understandably her own antagonist for the first part of the novel as she struggles to accept her death. Emily becomes an antagonist in name only for a short time as she stands in the way of Owen and Liz's relationship. However, she has no interest in the role and almost immediately withdraws from it. Amadou Bonamy is the man who killed Liz but it was an accident and he deeply regrets it and is shown to be a family man. There's no traditional antagonist.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Played for Drama. The fact that Liz will age backward in Elsewhere is a major source of angst for her because she's understandably upset over the fact she'll never get a chance to properly experience life.
  • Outliving One's Offspring:
    • Mr. and Mrs. Hall outlive their daughter Liz and because Liz dies so young they never reunite with her in Elsewhere
    • Aldous Ghent and his wife outlived their son after he was shot by a rifle by accident. Like the Halls they never reunite with their son.
    • It's revealed at the end that Amadou Bonamy the man who killed Liz by accident outlived his own son but unlike the Halls, it's implied he gets the chance to see his son again.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Played with. Liz is raised in the afterlife (although she is ageing backwards, rather than forwards) by her grandmother who died before she was born, Betty.
  • Reincarnation: Once you age back down to zero.
  • Running Over the Plot: The book starts with Liz getting run over and killed in a hit-and-run by Amadou Bonamy, which is what lands her in Elsewhere. From there, it becomes more of a subplot to the other Elsewhere plots. Liz has to cope with Amadou essentially getting away with killing her (though she admits she was at fault, and he tells her he feels extremely guilty about it) and eventually reaches a point where she can accept it wasn't his fault and no longer harbors anger towards him.
  • Second Love: Liz is one for Owen, after his wife on earth, Emily.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Heartbreakingly Subverted Emily was apparently pregnant with Owen's child when he died but the baby died through a miscarriage.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Liz and a few other people have the ability to speak to dogs. Liz eventually gets a job giving dogs counseling.
  • Together in Death: Deconstructed. Former Victorious Childhood Friend Emily and Owen both die young (Owen in a fire, Emily from flu). While they admit that they still care deeply for each other, death and the time apart has changed them. Emily is able to tell that Owen is now in love with Liz and tells him to go be with her, revealing that she had started to move on herself.
  • Unfinished Business: An example that doesn't involve becoming a ghost. Liz initially has this reaction when she learns the man who killed her hasn't been arrested and makes plans to head to The Well to tell her family who it is before getting second thoughts when she sees the man is a loving father. She later remembers that she bought her dad a sweater as a birthday present and feels in order to properly move on she needs to "give" it to him by telling her family where she hid it. Her first attempt to do so is stopped by Owen as contacting Earth on Elsewhere is forbidden but after Liz explains the situation to him he emphasizes due to his own unresolved issues regarding his wife and helps her get the message to her family.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Lucy Liz's dog on Earth and Liz have a heartfelt reunion in one of the last chapters after Lucy peacefully passes away in her sleep however after that Lucy vanishes from the story and we never learn what she and Liz did together in her remaining time on Elsewhere or what her reaction was to Liz's release.


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