Scale of 1 - 10: 6.5
Pros: Well-written, with a good, thoughtful story
Cons: No explanation for why people in Elsewhere live their lives in reverse, which seems like a gimmick
Zevin has a good grasp of teen angst, and I like her take on what life - that we are here to live and learn, and that hanging on to the past does no one any good. I like that. What I don't like is the lack of explanation for why people "live backwards" once they arrive in Elsewhere. It just makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. If the point of it is to learn in some manner which you couldn't if you aged normally, then it would be good to know that.
It may be that my main problem with that aspect of how Elsewhere is portrayed lies in the fact I do not believe in reincarnation, but I think it will be extremely off-putting to anyone who has very strong opinions about the afterlife. It seems to me the reader will need to maintain an open mind on that subject, and some readers' religious beliefs may preclude that, which is a shame, as it really is a lovely story which caused me to become teary-eyed on more than one occasion.
There are gentle lessons to be learned in the pages of Elsewhere, if readers can set aside their religious beliefs and just go with Liz's story, which is about both growing up and coming to terms. I recommend it for all ages.