Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Where is Elsewhere?

A few blogs back I wrote about my reading the book "Elsewhere" with a 7th grader as part of a Reading Program in a nearby school.  We both read the same book, then we meet three times to talk about the plot, the characters, and share our individual opinions.  By the time we're finished, we've dissected the book like a frog. A truly beneficial program for both the volunteer and the student.

"Elsewhere" is a novel, written by Gabrielle Zevin.  She gears the story toward a young adult audience and writes about the afterlife and the intelligence of our canine counterparts.  The author portrays Elsewhere as a place where inhabitants go after death, and where they age in reverse until they reach babyhood, at which time they are sent back to Earth and reborn.  It's an intriguing concept where the length of death equals the length of life.

None of us has any idea what the afterlife will be like......if there is an afterlife.  I don't think any of us don't harbor that teeny-weeny bit of doubt that perhaps when the lights go out, it simply gets dark.

In the book, the author skillfully uses the afterlife as a way to discuss the big things about this life.  The book is chuck full of wisdom, things that click and make the reader think.  Every book contains certain sentences that we just want to write down and paste on the wall so we don't forget them, and Elsewhere is no different.......
  • An avocation is something a person does to make the soul complete.
  • The woman is in love with her own grief.  Some people love all the drama.
  • When chairs are uncomfortable, it's a sign you've been sitting in them too long.
  • It's easier to be happy than sad.
  • When you aren't preparing for old age, senility, sickness, death or children, there is relatively little to spend on.
  • I think we're always on an adventure and don't even know it.
  • We think we're helping, but we're not.
  • The importance of laughter and forgetting.
  • Sometimes we turn around and everything has changed. 
  • Dogs are more expressive than we are.  It's easier for them to show love.  It's harder for them to be deceitful. 
The author lives with Mrs. DeWinter, her canine friend.  She knows that more than likely Mrs. DeWinter will die before she does, but she wants to think that in the afterlife we will be reunited with our pawed-pals as well as our two-legged ones.

Reading is the door to a broader and better life.  I thank my mother for the way she savored the written word and spent countless lonely hours behind closed doors with a book in her hands.  With today's technology, books are being replaced by devices like the Kindle.  My generation reveres the book, but, yet, there's something quite spectacular in being able to carry 35,000 books in one's purse.  I'll never say no to the new.  While I'm alive, I shall try to experience every new invention that I'm able to afford and is within reason.  I'm going to squeeze every drop I can out of the gift of life that my parents gave me.  As the author of "Elsewhere" says, sometimes we turn around and life has changed.  Accepting those changes is the key to laughter and forgetting, and those two things are the keys to our having joy on Earth.