Elsewhere: Life and Curtis Jest
The novel Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin is spectacular. Throughout the book there are many characters that diserve to be mentioned. Elizabeth Marie Hall, also know as Liz or Lizzie is the main character. Owen Welles is her boyfriend. Thandi is her best friend that she meets on the boat. Aldous Ghent is her mentor and friend. Betty is Liz’s grandmother. Emily Welles is Owen’s “wife”. Alvy is Liz’s brother. Curtis Jest is the rock star she met on the boat. Lucy is Liz’s pug, Jen is Owen’s dog and Sadie is Liz’s dog. Amadou Bonamy is the man who hit Liz, and Zooey, Liz’s best friend on Earth.
Liz is fifteen, looking forward to turning sixteen and getting her driver’s license, when everything changes. She’s riding her bike, only three months from driving a car instead of using her bike as her main mode of transportation, when she is hit by a car. She wakes up on a ship, sharing a room with a girl named Thandi who has what looks like a bullethole in the back of her head. Liz doesn’t look like she normally does, either; she doesn’t have any hair. In this “dream,” as she thinks it is, things are a little weird.
There are no modern electronic devices on the ship, and everyone with the exceptions of herself, Thandi, and Liz’s favorite singer, Curtis Jest, is over 80. After watching her own funeral (used by her high school principal as an opportunity to lecture on traffic safety), Liz realizes that this is no dream. Nor is it exactly her “life. ” Liz is dead. She was killed in a car crash, and, in the world skillfully created by Gabrielle Zevin, this is where people go once they die. On a ship. Of course, boats have to go somewhere, and this one finally lands in Elsewhere. The afterlife, though not as anyone on earth imagined it.
In Elsewhere, for one thing, people age backwards. Liz will never turn sixteen (but they’ll still let her get a driver’s license); instead, she’ll be turning fourteen again, under the care of her dead grandmother, who is surprisingly young (about the same age as Liz’s mother). Elsewhere, though the people grow younger rather than older, is a lot like earth. Some artists continue their work here (you can see new paintings by Picasso! ), just as they did on earth. Marilyn Monroe is a psychiatrist. Everything you can find on Earth–music, books, artwork–you can find Elsewhere.
Elsewhere, Liz thinks, “could have been a walk to the next town or an hour’s ride in the car or an overnight plane trip. ” It shouldn’t be too hard adjusting to this… right? Betty helps her to resolve these feelings by convincing her to take a new job as a counsellor in the division of domestic animals, at which point Lizzie begins to slowly leave her routine of watching her family and instead is given a new motivation to her new life. However, Lizzie is still plagued by the anger she feels towards the driver responsible for her death, “he is a murderer, he is my murderer.
Here Zevin uses repetition to emphasize this anger. Lizzie becomes strongly determined to make him pay for what he has done, and she manages to find a restricted portal known as “The Well,” to contact her family and tell them who it was that were responsible for her death. how far are you? it depends on what you mean by ending… sorry if this is a spoiler to others! but yeah the book pretty much ends how you’d expect, liz and owen grow younger together, forget to read, lose teeth, and live a very happy childhood together. it ends with liz being shipped back across the ocean as a baby, and her rebirth. wen is cared for by his ex when he’s a baby, and betty and curtis are happy together. the end. Well, it’s been a while, but, basically, she decides that she can’t adjust to life on Elsewhere so she wants to go back to Earth with that one year plan(I can’t remember what they called the plan). Once they release her she decides at the last minute that she doesn’t want to go back to Earth, that she’ll miss all of her friends from Elsewhere. She wiggles free of the wrappings and then gets lost for a couple of days at the bottom of the ocean.
Owen refuses to give up on looking for her and he finds her eventually and they live happily ever after… haha!! I think that’s what happens, but I’m not for sure!! Like I said, it’s been a while. In the beginning of the novel, a dog is telling us that her owner, Liz, has died. I think the dog explains that the girl was on her bike and was killed by a hit-and-run taxi driver, but we may get that information later. She goes down the river to be sent back to earth after she is done aging backwards. The guy that she was seeing was like 2.
Anyway, the story shifts to the dead girl, Liz, who wakes up on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. She does not have hair and does not really know how she got there. She finds another girl, Thandi, who claims she was shot in the head before waking up on the ship. Liz also recognizes and befriends a man named Curtis, who was a famous musician. Most of the others on the ship are old people, and all of them are in pajamas all of the time. That’s all Liz knows until later, when Thandi and Curtis tell her they’re all dead.
Liz refuses to accept this for a long time, even though she watches her own funeral through binoculars on the ship. Anyway, the ship docks in a place called Elsewhere. Liz finds that there is no God, but her grandmother, whom she’d never met, comes to meet her. Liz goes to live with her, and she learns that in Elsewhere, people age backwards until they become babies again, at which point they’re reborn. For a long time, Liz spends all of her time watching her loved ones back on earth. She tries to contact them, at one point diving to the bottom of the ocean to use some sort of underwater well to speak with her brother.
The officer in charge of catching people who do that saves her (not her life, as she can’t die, but saves her all the same) and eventually helps her contact her brother. Through the brother, she is able to tell her father about the birthday gift she’d hidden under the floorboards. This is enough to give her peace, and she’s able to adjust. She and the officer, Owen, basically fall in love. Liz also goes to work helping pets who have died learn to adjust (she can speak to them), while Thandi takes a job as an announcer.
There are more snags: Owen’s wife dies and creates a brief love triangle, though Owen eventually chooses Liz, as he died young and he no longer has much in common with his wife. Anyway, Curtis ends up marrying Liz’s grandmother, Liz becomes happy. She becomes the director of her department, is happy to welcome her dog when she finally dies, and even forgives the man who’d killed her when he arrives in Elsewhere years later. She also spends a good decade or more with Owen before the both of them become too young and have to get ready to be reborn.
The book ends on a sad note–Liz’ grandmother (who was older when she died and thus has longer to spend in Elsewhere), has been caring for baby Liz and gets her ready for rebirth. The group goes to the shore (they put the babies in the ocean, and the current carries them to earth), Owen not really caring until the end, after Liz is gone and he has a brief flash of memory of what she meant to him. He starts crying but quickly forgets again (he’s only two at this point and is being cared for by his wife). The novel ends with Liz being born to another mother and feeling eager to start another life. very one else on the boat was over 80 EXCEPT Curtis Jest, Thandi, and Liz! CONFLICT/PROBLEM The conflict or problem encountered would be that, first of all, she is dead. Second of all she can’t get over the fact that she hates that she is in Elsewhere. The third problem is that she is aging backwards everyday. Back to the day she was born. SETTING: The setting or place this book took place is first on a cruise ship. That’s where she woke up. Then the cruise ship takes her to elsewhere and that is where the biggest part of the book takes place. THEMES: I think there are a couple themes of this book.
The first one is that eventually you have to accept who you are or where you are. It gets harder and more miserable if you don’t. Lizzie had trouble coming to terms with things. She hated elsewhere but she finally accepted the fact she was dead. Number two would be that things can be bad but in the end everything will be alright. Lizzie didn’t like that she ended up in elsewhere but realized that being happy is the best thing that she could do for herself. The third theme for me would be forgiveness. Liz hates the cab driver for killing her but notices that her hate for him won’t make things better for anyone.
Forgiveness is very important in life. Elsewhere tells the story of a fifteen year old girl, Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Hall, who dies in a bicycle accident and wakes up to find herself traveling on a boat called the SS Nile. There, she meets a girl who had been shot and a famous person who had died of a drug overdose. After watching her own funeral, Liz realizes that she is truly dead. Soon afterwards, she and the other passengers arrive in what is known as “Elsewhere”. She meets her grandmother, who had died before Liz was born, and Liz begins to live with her.
In Elsewhere, Liz learns, everyone ages backwards from the day they died to the day they turn zero, and then they are sent back to Earth to be reincarnated as a baby. Liz misses her life on Earth, and becomes obsessed with watching her family and friends through Observation Decks, she tried to talk to her family a few times, which she gets caught and meets Owen. She is depressed, and sees no reason to do anything since she is dead, but in time she makes new friends in Elsewhere who help her come to terms with the fact that she has died.
She can talk in canine, which she at first was unaware of. Gradually, she learns that a life lived backwards is not much different to a life lived forwards. Elsewhere is an original, interesting view of things that is somewhere between the heaven and hell spoken of by most religions; as has been said, this afterlife is a lot like an extension of life on earth, only backwards. It seems like a nice place, a happy place to be–except for what it takes for people to get there.