While her friends slumber in a post-party alcohol-marijuana haze, Elizabeth climbs to the deck of her parents' yacht to discover what the thumping noise is that woke her. When she peers into the water, she sees her own dead body, knocking gently against the side of the boat. A boy she vaguely remembers appears beside her, and an agonizing odyssey begins as she comes to terms with the fact that she is dead but not quite gone, and that she and her companion, Alex, a boy who died the year before, have some serious questions to answer before they can move on. As Liz watches her family and friends deal with her death, she is increasingly heartbroken (and occasionally angry, as she watches her stepsister try to move in on her boyfriend, Richie), but she also realizes that there are serious gaps in her memory. Alex teaches her how to travel back to events to relive them, and in the process she learns how mean she and her popular friends were to guys like him. She also has to work through her memories of her beloved mother, who died of an anorexia-induced stroke when Liz was nine, and who educated Liz into an unshakable conviction that control is the most important thing you can have. As Liz moves from disbelief to horror to grief, Alex manages to find the forgiveness he needs to leave, and Liz has to figure out why she's still around. Her one constant is her steadfast love for Richie, which is revealed through everything as deep and sustaining for both of them, and it eventually proves the key for her redemption. Liz runs the gamut of strong emotion throughout this compelling backtrack of a short life punctuated by early grief, parental failings, and honest, flawed love; her journey offers insight into the effects all of these things can have on an ordinary life. It's been a while since The Lovely Bones was in every high school backpack; this is a strong contender to take its place. [End Page 545]
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Warman, Jessica. Between. Walker, 2011. [464p]. ISBN 978-0-8027-2182-2 $17.99 Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 9-12.
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