Title: The Great Blue Yonder
Author: Alex Shearer
Genre: YA Fantasy
Number of Pages: 192
When we meet Harry, he is dead- hit by a truck after a fight with his sister. He’s transported to the ‘in-between’ realm for spirits, which involves a lot of wandering under a perpetual sunset and bureaucratic paperwork. Most of the people there are much older than he is, but he meets a befriends the ghost of a boy who died of fever centuries ago.
He just wants to find a way to apologize to his sister for the last thing he said to her (you’ll be sorry when I’m dead!) and then maybe he can move on. His new friend Arthur takes him on a haunting expedition, and he faces the pain of observing a world he’s no longer a part of. The Great Blue Yonder is a delight, lighter than something like The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold but more substantial than Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin.
It deftly examined people’s different reactions to an unexpected death (especially the death of a child who seemingly had their whole life ahead of them) and Harry has darkly funny reactions to the lack of devastation and anguish he expects from his teachers and classmates. Instead, life goes on- but that doesn’t mean they’ve forgotten him.
I really liked the theological implications of Harry’s afterlife and how he got to go back and tie up loose ends before moving on and becoming part of something bigger. Harry’s quirky and deadpan narrative voice sounds pretty adult while still having the impulsivity and immaturity of a child. Bittersweet without being sentimental or overly tragic, The Great Blue Yonder is a good book for middle graders, teenagers, and adults. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey it took me on.