Elizabeth Valchar—pretty, popular, and perfect—wakes up the morning after her eighteenth birthday party on her family’s yacht, where she’d been celebrating with her six closest friends. A persistent thumping noise has roused her. When she goes to investigate, what she finds will change... read more
Liz Valchar is a ghost; she died on her 18th birthday. She's on a yacht full of her drunk, sleeping friends. The yacht is still tied to the dock. She sees her dead self floating in the ocean very early in the morning, when it is still dark. That's when she realizes that she's dead. And she... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
Liz Valchar is a ghost; she died on her 18th birthday. She's on a yacht full of her drunk, sleeping friends. The yacht is still tied to the dock. She sees her dead self floating in the ocean very early in the morning, when it is still dark. That's when she realizes that she's dead. And she can't remember why. She only remembers a bit of information about her self and her life. She remembers her mother's struggle with anorexia and her death when Liz was only 9. And she remembers that her father married Nicole shortly after. She recalls the rumors of her father and Nicole having an affair long before her mother died. She remembers her best friend and stepsister, Josie. She remembers her overwhelming love for hey boyfriend, Richie (who was famous for dealing drugs). She recalls her love for running. She also remembers silly details about her life, like how many calories are in an apple and her makeup routine. But she doesn't remember how she died.
Then she meets Alex on the dock, who is also a ghost. She recognizes him as a boy from her school who died about a year ago. He died riding his bike on his way home from work when a drunk driver hit him. Alex was never popular; Liz was very popular. They have almost nothing in common and don't get along very well as ghosts.
They are both stuck on earth until they learn "something". They don't know what that something is.
Liz and Alex watch as Liz's family and friends mourn her passing. Her friends - Josie, Caroline, Mera, Christopher (aka Topher), and Richie - were the only ones on board the yacht that night. No one remembers what happened. They had all fallen asleep. Because Liz was prone to passing out, they assumed that she fell overboard when she went out to get some air. Richie is in shock.
Alex and Liz continue to follow the progress of Liz's family. Liz has frequent moments of "dreaming" - she'll relive a memory in her mind for a few minutes every now and then. She's piecing her memory back together one piece at a time. As Liz watches herself in her memories, she begins to realize how shallow she was sometimes. Alex shows her a memory of his friend being bullied by Liz's friend Topher and Liz just sitting by and watching.
Alex has already been dead for a year, so he's basically pieced together his entire memory. He seldom slips into these memories anymore. And when he does, he almost never lets Liz enter the memories with him. Still, Liz allows Alex to come into her memories quite frequently.
Liz's memory unfolds before her eyes. She recalls eating very little, to the point of starvation. She remembers getting a concussion from falling down the stairs. She remembers running for the school's track team. She sees memories of her mother wearing thinner and thinner, influencing Liz to eat very little to stay in shape. She also watches herself begin to waste away as she takes to eating almost nothing and running for hours a day at the age of 17. Liz can't remember what prompted the change in her eating habits.
When she's not reliving memories, Liz watches her friends as they begin to behave strangely. Her girlfriends pick clothes out of Liz's closet for themselves. Richie and Josie start dating. Caroline steals prescription painkillers (leftover from Liz's concussion) and five hundred dollars in cash from Liz's bathroom. At the time, Liz can't recall why she'd have that much cash hidden anywhere. Her family was rich.
Later, Josie gets out a Ouija board and attempts to speak to Liz, along with Mera and Caroline. Liz notices that Josie is moving the pointer, fooling her friends into thinking that they are actually contacting Liz. Josie and her mom, Nicole, are very into new-age spirituality and contacting the dead. Liz recalls going to their "church" once and having a psychic tell her to "beware the red-head in disguise". Liz never went back to that church. She told Richie about what the psychic had said. But they both brushed it off, since Liz didn't even know any red heads.
While watching Richie, Liz is horrified as Josie and Richie share romantic moments alone. As Josie leaves Richie's house, the policeman who is in charge of Liz's case comes in and asks Richie if he was cheating before Liz died (hoping to accuse Richie of killing Liz). Richie says he was seeing Josie for a few months, but also says that he found out Liz was cheating on him with a man named Vince Aiello just a few months before she died. Josie had even shown him photos of Vince and Liz together. Liz can't believe it. She knew she'd never cheat on Richie. And yet, the name "Vince" sounds familiar to her.She follows the police man to Vince's house, where she has a memory of being in nothing but a bra in panties on Vince's bed. She watches herself grimace as he kisses her cheek. She was seeing him. But she wasn't enjoying it. The memory disgusts Liz and she racks her brain to think of why she would ever see a man as disgusting as Vince. She can't conjure up the reason why.
As the days pass by, Liz tries to make connections with Richie. He suddenly takes to running. One his first long run, he ends up standing right in front of Alex's house. Liz assumes that this is because she thought about Alex when she was trying to connect with Richie.
In one very important memory, Liz sees herself and Josie talking about how Liz needs to be careful about what she says to Richie and to go get Liz's car fixed (after she allegedly ran into a parking meter). Liz and Richie go to a mechanic (Vince) to get the dent in her red mustang fixed. That's where she first met Vince. At the time she hated everything about him. Even Alex believes Liz when she says she never loved Vince. Liz was too prissy and perfect for that. Liz has another memory of speaking to her sister and saying "He knows. Vince knows." but can't remember what it is that Vince knows.
Richie sets out to kill Vince but doesn't go through with it. He turns himself into the police station but his father's position in the town allows him to get off pretty free. His drugs are confiscated and he's put on probation. Richie gets out of the mess in time to go to homecoming with Josie, but Liz notices that Richie's love for Josie is nothing compared to what she and Richie had when she as alive. Liz and Alex go to the prom, too. They dance together as ghosts. Through all of this, they've finally come to enjoy each other's company. Richie doesn't spend much time with Josie that night. When prom is over, Josie refuses to ride in the limo because she saw the driver drinking alcohol. "I'm not driving with someone who's drunk!" she insists, and procures another ride.
That night, Alex brings Liz to the site of his death and tells her to try and remember. Liz enters a memory, alone. She's at a party at Caroline's house. She gets drunk and vomits cranberry juice and vodka on Caroline's parents $10,000 antique rug, leaving a terrible red stain. While driving home with Josie, Liz hits something. She gets out to investigate, thinking it's a deer, but it isn't. It's Alex. Liz watches him die. She wants to call 911 but Josie convinces her not to, saying that it will ruin their lives. They drive home and don't tell a soul.
When the memory is over, Liz remembers everything. She remembers that she killed Alex. She remembers that Vince saw some paint from Alex's bike on the underside of Liz's car when she went to get it fixed. Vince didn't buy her story about hitting a parking meter. He told her to bring him $500 dollars and do whatever he said. At first Liz did, but he kept demanding more, threatening to tell the police if she didn't comply. That's why she was going to his house, taking racy pictures and allowing him to kiss her. That's why she had a stash of cash in her bathroom. She remembers why she stopped eating and started running - the guilt was getting to her. She remembers telling Josie that they needed to say something, but Josie always convinced her not to.
Liz apologizes Alex. Alex says he has known for a long time. He knew she killed him. That's why he showed up on the dock when she died. He had been following her as a ghost to see if she was truly sorry for what she did. He says that her plummeting weight and addiction to running proved to him that she was really sorry. He admits that he never thought he'd enjoy her company, but has come to see that under all the make up and popularity is a very broken girl. He finally forgives her. And then he's gone.
Liz stays on earth, roaming, waiting for Richie to discover the truth- and he does. The cop finds the pictures of Liz in her underwear and returns to Vince's house to question him. Vince cracks, telling the cop everything. Richie finds out from watching the news. Liz hit Alex when she was drunk. Liz wasn't willingly cheating on him. Liz was losing weight because of the guilt. Richie goes over to talk to Josie, thinking she'll need to be comforted. But Josie hasn't seen the news broadcast.
Right there in Josie's living room, the truth comes out. Josie was the one that didn't want Liz to tell. She was afraid that they'd BOTH get in trouble, and their lives would be ruined. Josie knew why Liz was going to Vince's house and that she wasn't willingly cheating. But she used the pictures Vince took and showed them to Richie, making him believe that Liz was cheating on him. Josie loved Richie. She lied to him to get him to love and trust her. Talking and packing at the same time, Josie shows Richie and picture of herself as a baby- she was read headed until she was 4 years old. "Beware the red head in disguise" pops into Liz's head. Liz slips into a memory as she watches Richie and Josie talk: She sees herself on the yacht, telling Josie that she can't take it anymore and that she's going to confess. Liz watches as she loses her footing and falls into the ocean. She sees Josie push her head under water instead of helping her up. Liz watches Josie drown her.
Coming back to reality, Liz watches as Richie comes to the conclusion that Josie killed her. Richie storms out, furious.
Liz follows Richie. He goes running and meets Liz's dad on the dock where they saw Liz's body in the water. As the two men talk, Liz says goodbye to each of them, preparing to leave earth for good. When she's finished, she looks down in the water to the place where she first saw her body floating. But her body is long gone, buried in the cemetarty and given a fancy headstone. Instead, she sees the smiling face of her mother in the water. She jumps in to join her in heaven.
“Marshell, She'll never be hungrey again”Nicole
A person’s character, I realize, is never black-and-white. There is so much gray.Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
To see life for what it truly is: a series of endless possibilities, not just for great pain, but for great joy.Highlighted by 3 Kindle customers
16+... Besides the obvious theme of death, Elizabeth and Alex both use language, including h*ll, s**t, a**, b**ch and d**n. The f-word is also used multiple times by other characters. In the very first chapter, Elizabeth reminisces about the party earlier than evening which included alcohol and marijuana. Her boyfriend, Richie, is addicted to weed and is a known dealer. She also later recalls getting "steamy" with him in the back of his truck after senior prom (we later learn that she and Richie came close but never actually had sex). She recalls other parties and her own drunkenness later in the book. Her mother was anorexic and Liz's eating habits reflect that she also ate very little for the sake of staying stick thin.
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