Oct 18, 12
Recommended to Fred by:
Read from August 12 to 16, 2011
This is an intense book that elicits deep emotions of the heartache kind. It's a story of redemption in the afterlife of a seemingly superficial rich girl, Liz, who wakes up during the night of her 18th birthday to find her now lifeless body floating in the water near her family's boat, where she'd been partying with her friends and step-sister. She's not alone in this weird between state, though, there's another dead boy from her school, Alex, who seems to be some sort of guide for her, although he clearly is not fond of her or her friends. Liz's quest to find out what happened, to her and to Alex, is a wide ranging exploration of their two lives, how they came to be the way they were in life and now in death, and just what happened to bring them together.
This is a mix of social drama, mystery, romance (a little, but very touching, her boyfriend Richie is an interesting non-pigeonholeable character) and family issues. It moves between the past and the present as Liz and Alex attempt to put together the jigsaw pieces of the past to understand and move past what happened to them. Liz is a great character, dimensional and real, and her story is such a sad one that your heart really does ache for her, while still being somewhat repelled by her mean and reckless actions in the past. The supporting characters become real enough that you care about them, too. This is a long book, and it's very immersive, I found myself compelled to keep going, even - or especially - after the questions began to be clear to everyone but those caught up in them. Another element I like was the way the author worked in references to literary works which foreshadowed, illuminated or ironically commented on the action. Even though this is a sad book, it's not depressing or grim, and ultimately it's uplifting and very satisfying. Although I really loved Before I Fall, and there are obvious similarities, this has a very different feel, much more narrative-y and dense with details and subplots. Both are great, and on my all time best list, but they don't cancel or compete with each other.