By: Jessica Warman
Format: Hardcover, 464 pages
Published: August 2, 2011; Walker Childrens
Received: ARC from BEA
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Summary (from Goodreads): Elizabeth Valchar --- pretty, popular and rich --- wakes up the morning after her 18th birthday on the yacht where she’d been celebrating with her closest friends. A persistent thumping noise has roused her. When she goes to investigate, she finds her own drowned body is hitting the side of the boat. Liz is dead. She has no memory of what happened to her, and can only observe in horror the fallout of her death.
She’s also soon joined by Alex Berg, a quiet boy from her high school who was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The two keep each other company, floating in and out of memories and trying to piece together the details of what happened to each of them.
In her regular life, Liz was a runner. It wasn’t abnormal for her to run 8-10 miles per day. But as memories from closer to her death begin to surface, Liz finds that she’d been running much more than normal, and that she’d all but stopped eating. Liz’s mother, who died when Liz was nine, had battled with anorexia as well, and those around her worried that Liz was following in her mother’s footsteps. But something more sinister was consuming Liz from the inside out...
My Review: Break out the tissues, because this story is a real tear-jerker. Though I am not usually a fan of after-life novels, I must say that I was unexpectedly touched by this story.
Elizabeth is really a despicable person. She is the kind of girl that I could not relate to in high school, or ever, for that matter. (Though I never really got picked on, I wasn't around a lot in high school). She's popular, aloof, and a total sheeple. When she dies, her first and only thoughts are about how disgusting her body looks after having drowned, and how she won't even be able to have an open-casket funeral. When Alex shows up and explains the gravity of the situation, she is rude, unfeeling, and sarcastic to him. We hate Elizabeth.
In this book's version of the afterlife, Elizabeth and Alex need to come to terms with their deaths and unravel the mystery that surrounds them both. But, much of Elizabeth's memory is nonexistent, and she finds herself going back into her memories and reliving parts of her life to piece together the puzzle. Throughout this journey my hatred of Elizabeth turned to pity. Parts of her past are mingled with the present, and she watches and remembers what caused her to be the person she was the night that she died. Elizabeth stopped being the shallow girl that cared about nothing and no one, and became a frightened and confused girl that saw too much sorrow too early in life.
Each character in this story cannot be taken at face value. Her boyfriend Richie is a drug dealer, but he's a smart kid that is devoted to Elizabeth. Her stepsister Josie on her face seems like a clueless girl that desperately needs to belong, but, well, I won't tell you what lies beneath her character.
This book has some mature themes in it. Mostly recreational drug use, underage drinking, and references to sexual activity. I will say though, that I felt like none of it was gratuitous, and in many ways, it was critical to the story. The fact that Richie is a drug dealer is important, as is the fact that Elizabeth's friends were so wasted the night she died that no one can remember a thing about what happened to her. I really liked Elizabeth's convictions that she was a virgin, and that was important to her. But, this book is probably more suited for older teens because of these things.
This book will make you take a good hard look at how you are living your life now, because let's face it, it can be gone in a flash. It didn't take long for this book to suck me in, and before I knew it, I had stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to find out what happened to Alex and Elizabeth.