April 28, 2014

Special Olympics & IMWAYR: Elsewhere

Yesterday was Special Olympics at one of the local colleges, and my girl J asked me several weeks ago to come watch her compete. Her events included running and the softball throw, and we have two other students from my school competing in running and jumping events.

Joel was a great sport and agreed to tag along for this event, and we arrived at 11:00 as planned. J was scheduled to start at 11:15, so I thought I had plenty of time. As it turns out, though, I wasn't able to find our group. I stook at the track for 20 minutes looking for them. I saw plenty of other students from our district, but I couldn't find my kiddos. Finally, after emailing the coach, I realized we were in the wrong place (stupid lack of signs), and I missed her event by like 2 minutes.

Luckily, she was smiling from ear to ear when I caught up with her and her family before they headed to lunch. I'm glad she knows I came, even if I didn't get to see her compete.

For today's book talk, I want to share with you a book that I fell in love with years ago and still recommend to students. It's called Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin.

I was first introduced to this book by a coworker while I was subbing and earning my teaching certificate. I mentioned that I was looking for suggestions for building a classroom library, and she raved about this book.

Elsewhere is the setting of this story, which is where all people go once they die. But don't worry, this book isn't morbid at all. In fact, one of the reasons I like this book so much is because it offers an idea about life after death that I think can be very comforting for students dealing with loss.

In Elsewhere, the weather is perfect, no one is ever sick, and the best part of all, life continues. At whatever age a person died, they come to Elsewhere and age backwards until they are again infants (in body, not mind), when they float down a river and are re-born in the world.

When Lizzie dies at age 15, before she can even earn her license or have her first kiss, she is devastated. She laments the life she left and spends a lot of time at the Observation Deck watching her friends and family continue with their lives without her.

Her new home is living with a grandmother she's never met, who has been in Elsewhere long enough that she's now the age of Liz's mother. This creates a strange yet familiar dynamic between the two.

In time, Liz learns to accept and even enjoy her new life and the possibilities it offers. She befriends Thandi and meets her new crush, Owen, and through those relationships, she learns that while her old life is over, she has opportunities in this new life in Elsewhere, not to mention the future lives she now knows she will have.

My favorite part of the book is when Lizzie takes a job working for the Division of Domestic Animals and learns that she's fluent in canine. As she interprets for her furry friends, she also helps them find new homes in Elsewhere.

This book offers a unique perspective on life after death that stays with readers for years to come. I would say it's appropriate for any middle school student.

**Please check my book log for a complete list of my Monday book reviews.


  1. You are so awesome that you made the effort to go see J....even if you missed it by 2 minutes. I am certain this absolutely meant the world to her. You are my hero! XO
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. I just read another book by Zevin and I am excited to dip into her backlist. Thanks for highlighting Elsewhere!

  3. I like this author and will look for this book.