Release Date: October 30, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Find it on Goodreads
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.
This debut will sweep you off your feet. From the first sentence, it will captivate you and make you second guess your deepest thoughts while exploring others. Both entertaining and thought-provoking, Touching the Surface is a masterful take on some of life's most puzzling questions. What happens after we die? What's the point of life?Touching the Surface is seemed character driven but tension permeates most of the book. You might not necessarily find a lot of action but it's mostly emotional. The world is created and the characters are there for the reason that they need to find themselves and figure out how they're holding themselves back. Each of the characters grows and interacts more and more with others throughout the book and made a complex book that was simple to understand and a true experience to read.Books like this one remind me of why I love to read. For me, this was that book. Touching the Surface introduced many new questions and ideas while answering some of my own. I love books that I can escape into, but I also love books that make me think and look at things in a new perspective. Kim had a gorgeous tone that just managed to remind the reader of how important that the little things are. Elliot's quiet deliberation of her life also contrasted nicely with her wild emotions when she remembered parts of her life that she would rather have forgotten.I don't even know how to describe the strange emotions roiling in me after finishing the book, and my experience with the book. It's just one of those books that is so pure and beautiful. Elliot was confused after dying for the third time. Something went wrong. It was never good to be a Third Timer, and she thought that she was doing well in her life. She was missing something, but she didn't know what.Her best friend was ignoring her and seemed almost hostile; the odds were stacked against her and she didn't know why. She found herself falling for two brothers - both extremely different but she couldn't pull herself away from them. Between Delving into painful memories during workshops and trying to figure out herself outside of them, Elliot was completely swamped with everything at once and somehow she had to find who she was despite all of that.Touching the Surface is a cognizant and indulgent novel about finding your identity in the midst of chaos. Beautifully presented, Kimberly Sabatini presents a dreamy and impassioned novel written with an elegant consciousness unlike anything else out there.Read the extended review:The relationships in this book were so excellently handled. Really, I keep saying that about almost every element in this book because everything just seemed almost flawless to me. Kimberly went past the surface of some issues and skimmed the surface of others, but she definitely touched on so many different aspects of Elliot's life. Between the comprehensive structure of the afterlife and the character development, the story was a nice balance of character and plot.I got confused with some of the technicality in the book, but that was a small sacrifice for the complete originality of the afterlife that Kimberly has created. It's extremely hard to create a new afterlife dynamic completely unique from anything else out there, but that's what you get in Touching the Surface.The narrative is interposed with flashbacks from Elliot's life that slowly reveal the missing pieces from her memory. I have ranted about my hatred for amnesia storylines before, but this was completely different. Elliot had the sense of who she was and what happened and the empty holes in her memory weren't abrasive to the story. Subtly and gracefully intertwined with the present storyline, the flashbacks only add more to her character and constantly add to a complicated backstory.Elliot's life becomes more and more chaotic as she tries to figure out what it means and how she appears to other people. Elliot's made mistakes and done things to the people that she loves, but she honestly thought of herself as a good person and wants to figure out how she can be the best version of herself that she can possibly be. She's confused by Julia's mixed messages and hurt by her rejection. She's conflicted between who she thinks she is and how she can change. She doesn't know what's going on with her life and what she's done, and that insecurity fills every page of the book as she grows into herself. It took her dying to understand who she really was. She loves Oliver and his joy, but is attracted to Trevor's dark magnetism.The contrast between the brothers wasn't overdone but each was sculpted completely. As a twin, it drives me crazy when close siblings or twins are portrayed as either polar opposites or completely alike. The brothers were distinctly different and portrayed in that light, but with enough little detail to make it believable instead of cookie cutter characters. I loved learning more about the brothers and how they interacted with each other. Trevor and Oliver love each other but they have this deep undercurrent of rivalry and guilt and all these other delicious histories.There are so many books dealing with the concept of the afterlife and what happens to us after we die. Kimberly Sabatini still manages to make her particular book world something entirely different from what we usually see. It's set up simply with room to change and it constantly does throughout the book. The technicality of it was sometimes hard to follow but it was still a great take and a new angle that I loved to see.I didn't know how to describe my thoughts after finishing Touching the Surface. I scoured every interview that Kimberly did and every blog post even mentioning this book when I heard about it, and read the first paragraph of the book in a teaser that Kimberly released. I wanted, no, NEEDED this book so badly and I am so happy that I had the opportunity to review it. Both achingly beautiful and refreshing, Touching the Surface is a book that I would honestly recommend to everyone that I know.Elliot was definitely a flawed character, and one of the most realistic teen narrators that I've read in a while. Her temper got the best of her and sometimes she was selfish. She ignored some things that she didn't want to face and withdrew into herself when she just wanted to think instead of act. She also learned and grew. She thought of herself as a good person and she tried so hard to understand the world around her and the people around her. She struggled with a lot and indulged in a lot but these were precisely the qualities that reminded me of myself.One of the biggest parts of being a teenager is being completely confused almost all of the time. I know that I related to this book because Elliot's anguish and self-awareness reminded me of myself and freshman year. Everybody is trying to figure out who they are and who they belong with. They're painfully aware of how others see them and just completely overwhelmed. If you're experiencing something similar, I definitely recommend Touching the Surface. It takes a common underlying problem and surrounds it with incredible character and a refreshing setting.Trevor, Oliver, and Julia were wonderful supporting characters. From Trevor's dark persona and confusing mood swings to Oliver's sunny personality, I loved the boys in this book. I wouldn't necessarily paint this book as a love triangle as usually viewed in YA - there was one, but it wasn't as intense as some others and it was more realistic than in other books - but it was definitely handled in a way that I loved to see.Kimberly has a great feel for what is realistic for teens and what is going too far. Elliot not only had problems with the guys in her life but also with Julia, her best friend. Julia and Elliot's relationship was changing because Julia understood what was holding her back and was confronting everything that she was too timid to in her previous lives. Elliot changed a lot because of Oliver and Trevor but she also changed because of Julia's influence and being able to start to identify how she wanted to change. There were even some smaller storylines and characters that impacted Elliot's development and the story.While there are definitely some heavier moments in this book where the full weight of Elliot's life really impacts her, it's also heartwarming. She's forced to confront a lot of her mistakes and flaws and gains new perspective by the end of the book. I love a flawed character and Kimberly Sabatini did an excellent job with her character development. Elliot changed in the subtle ways that a teen does.Eloquent and thoughtful writing made this book a standout. Even the most basic concepts in this book were discussed in such an elegant manner that I couldn't help but be entranced. When I first read the writing, I was a complete goner. Kimberly has this incredible ability to phrase things perfectly and capture the little things that really make life worth living. She handled the themes with poise and wove plot and character development so skillfully.I was crying by the end of the book. I got so attached to the characters and so invested in what happened to them. I didn't want to let them go. Endings upset me so much but it still made me happy. She managed to interweave realistic teenage personalities with a well thought out plot and gorgeous writing. It was a great ending but it left me so emotional. Heavy themes are dealt with elegantly, both delving into detail but also making it simple enough to understand.Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini is one of the most poignant and sensitive books that I've ever read. Not only is Kim one of my favorite people EVER (seriously, I could gush for days!) but she has managed to create a beautiful read that gently questions many of my preconceived beliefs about life, death, and love.This vivacious and ephemeral read will bury itself in your mind and soul, and is sure to be a read that you will remember.Recommended for anybody who loves: The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Elsewhere; afterlife; etc,.Possible book club questions:Elliot sees herself as a good person, but is only aware of what she's done to hurt people when they tell her about it. Do you think Elliot could have prevented being a Third Timer by being aware of this herself? Are you aware of yourself or are you more similar to Elliot? How do you think you can increase this awareness?Which brother did you prefer - Trevor or Oliver? Why?How did Elliot both improve and hurt her relationship with Julia throughout the book?What moments do you think impacted Elliot's character development the most? etc,.