Published by: Simon and Schuster
Experience the afterlife in this lyrical, paranormal debut novel that will send your heart soaring. When Elliot finds herself dead for the third time, she knows she must have messed up, big-time. She doesn’t remember how she landed in the afterlife again, but she knows this is her last chance to get things right. Elliot just wants to move on, but first she will be forced to face her past and delve into the painful memories she’d rather keep buried. Memories of people she’s hurt, people she’s betrayed…and people she’s killed. As she pieces together the secrets and mistakes of her past, Elliot must find a way to earn the forgiveness of the person she’s hurt most, and reveal the truth about herself to the two boys she loves…even if it means losing them both forever.
Touching the Surface first drew me in by its cover and then the synopsis with words like lyrical, afterlife and character growth had me hooked. Sabatini offered an interesting look at the reincarnated souls, finding forgiveness, personal growth, and love.
The tale begins when Elliot bursts from the surface into the Obmil or afterlife. She discovers she has died again and is now a third timer to the Obmil. Here she will need to gain perspective and delve into her past life in search of answers and acceptance. Only when she reaches enlightenment will she moves on to her next life. The tale that unfolds was filled with mystery, painful memories, happy memories and characters that kept me enthralled.
I adored and appreciated the diverse and fleshed out characters Sabatini presented us with. On the surface, Elliot can appear selfish but as we delve we see a complex soul in search of happiness, riddled with guilt, and in seeking forgiveness and understanding. I came to adore her and loved the growth we see in her character as she interacts with the others. Her best friend through her past two lives is Julia and she chooses to delve in a separate group from Elliot. We get a fresh look at how a person’s life can be overshadowed by another. Oliver and Trevor are the two boys in Elliot’s life and I loved them each. Their relationship to her was fascinating. At first, Oliver was the carefree boy, whom she seems to love and who makes her feel safe. Trevor is angry and lashes out. I loved his t-shirt as the slogans on it changed with his mood. Through delving their personalities unfold and we learn about their past connection to Elliot. It was completely fascinating and felt so genuine it left me breathless. Mel and David are counselors or guides and Freddie seems to help everyone. Each character impacts the tale and we learn something from them. I found myself emotionally connected to them and was so pleased the author did not include a love triangle but tied them all together. Their emotions felt raw and genuine.
Not only do we get original and unique characters but then Sabatini builds a world in the afterlife that is absolutely breathtaking and completely original. Think of a camp set deep in the woods by an enormous peaceful lake, but the setting changes for each person’s moods and needs.(rain, winter, fall, summer, landscape) So as a soul walks the world builds around them from lakes to windmills to soaring mountain views. The whole concept of the Obmil and what it represents to souls was a fascinating look at reincarnation. This subject has always interested me, and I have often wondered if people who just seem to have all their shit together are really old souls, while numbskulls are just floundering newbies. Delving is an interesting aspect where souls fall back and view moments in their previous life. These delves are done as a group and the hope is that the others will help the soul reach enlightenment. When that is achieved the soul can move forward into a new life. I loved how all of the souls tied together from the experiences they shared in their previous lives and in the Obmil. This was a spectacular tale that followed seamlessly and I literally consumed it in two sittings. The scenes go between time in the Obmil and the characters previous lives and I liked how we experienced it along with the characters. We both emerged from each delve with more understanding regarding each character and their journey. The author used this landscape to address issues regarding suicide, the afterlife, child abuse, forgiveness, carelessness, love, and friendship. As we gain an understanding of their initial responses to each other we watch the characters grow, recognize that their attitudes and actions are really just protective mechanisms and as readers, we can see how people in our daily lives use these crutches. I truly believe people act like asshats because they have issues they need to address. It’s a cry for help and I try to look at their perspective of things to gain insight into what drives them. The author brilliantly reveals this. Am I rambling? Gads, just trust me, this book will make you think, and entertain you all at the same time. It’s a book you will think about long after you have closed it.
Touching the Surface was wonderful, lyrical and thought-provoking. I cannot believe it’s not the most talked about the book out there. As Sabatini’s debut novel I can tell you she writes like a seasoned author. I would pick up her next book sight unseen.
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