Review – Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin

Posted July 8, 2022 by Carole in Reviews / 7 Comments

I received this book for free from the Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review – Elsewhere by Alexis SchaitkinElsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin
Published by Celadon Books on June 28, 2022
Genres: Fiction / Women
Pages: 240
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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four-stars

Richly emotive and darkly captivating, with elements of Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and the imaginative depth of Margaret Atwood, Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin conjures a community in which girls become wives, wives become mothers and some of them, quite simply, disappear.

Vera grows up in a small town, removed and isolated, pressed up against the mountains, cloud-covered and damp year-round. This town, fiercely protective, brutal and unforgiving in its adherence to tradition, faces a singular affliction: some mothers vanish, disappearing into the clouds. It is the exquisite pain and intrinsic beauty of their lives; it sets them apart from people elsewhere and gives them meaning.

Vera, a young girl when her own mother went, is on the cusp of adulthood herself. As her peers begin to marry and become mothers, they speculate about who might be the first to go, each wondering about her own fate. Reveling in their gossip, they witness each other in motherhood, waiting for signs: this one devotes herself to her child too much, this one not enough—that must surely draw the affliction’s gaze. When motherhood comes for Vera, she is faced with the question: will she be able to stay and mother her beloved child, or will she disappear?

Provocative and hypnotic, Alexis Schaitkin’s Elsewhere is at once a spellbinding revelation and a rumination on the mysterious task of motherhood and all the ways in which a woman can lose herself to it; the self-monitoring and judgment, the doubts and unknowns, and the legacy she leaves behind.

I thought that this book was really well done! It is a shorter book at 240 pages but I felt that it told a big story. I was very curious about what might be causing the disappearances of the mothers in this strange little town. Vera was a great character and I enjoyed seeing her experiences as she navigated life in her community. I am glad that I gave this one a try.

In the town that Vera has always lived in many of the mothers have a mysterious affliction in which they disappear. This doesn’t happen to all the mothers and nobody knows why it happens at all. Did they love their children too much? not enough? After they are gone, the townspeople gather up all of their belongings to be passed on to other community members, and all of their photos will be burned leaving no sign of them after they are gone. Vera’s own mother disappeared when she was a child and she fears that it will happen to her as she becomes a mother.

This story grabbed my attention quickly. The story took a few turns that I did not expect which is always a plus. The story covers a lot of years and I enjoyed seeing Vera change and grow over the years. Vera was a great character and I really wanted to see good things happen in her life. I thought that the story was well written and I liked the dystopian setting. I will definitely be recommending this one to others and look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

I received an advanced review copy of this book from Celadon Books.

About Alexis Schaitkin

Alexis Schaitkin is the author of Saint X. Her short stories have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and son.

7 responses to “Review – Elsewhere by Alexis Schaitkin

  1. Verushka

    The premise does pique my interest, but I thinkit’s one of those stories I would have to be in the right frame of mind for.

  2. I love the cover and am intrigued by the Shirley Jackson reference. Sometimes a big story doesn’t need a ton of pages and this sounds like an intriguing read.