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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Layoverland is a darkly funny coming-of-age story set in an imagined, in-between afterlife where the deceased await their chance to get into heaven. There's some brief philosophical and spiritual talk about the afterlife in general, what heaven and eternity are like, etc., but religion isn't specifically addressed beyond the traditional Christian heaven-purgatory-hell structure. The story's really about 17-year-old Beatrice's search for the truth about her death in a car crash, her "post-life" romance, and learning to see how her behavior and actions affect others. Parental loss is briefly explored via Beatrice's mother, who was killed by a drunk driver when Bea was 5. There are a few kisses described, including one with some detail about tongues. A couple in a bathtub at a party are discovered as they're about to start an unspecified sex act, with mention that the girl has all her clothes on and the boy's pants are pulled down. Teens talk about birth control, abortion (one teen reveals she had one), Planned Parenthood, abstinence, and adoption. Strong language includes "s--t," "motherf--ker," "bitch," and more. Lots of food for thought about the afterlife, eternity, love, friendship, atonement, family, and seeing ourselves as we really are.
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What's the Story?
Beatrice, 17, finds herself in LAYOVERLAND after a fatal car crash. Layoverland is an aiport-like purgatory where the deceased wait for their chance to work through whatever's holding them back from getting into heaven in the first place. Bea's been chosen to be one of the memory guides who help people understand what they need to in order to move on out of there, precisely because helping people is something she rarely did in life. When she's accidentally assigned to help the very person who caused the crash that took her life, Bea's thrown into a tailspin. On the one hand, she wants to prolong Caleb's time in Purgatory and make him as miserable as possible in payback for her own death. On the other hand she wants to know the truth about how or why Caleb caused the crash, at the risk of a revelation about it helping him to get into heaven. Things really get complicated as she starts to realize that she kind of likes Caleb, maybe even more than likes. As her feelings for Caleb grow and change, Bea will have to grapple with life, death, love, hate, hurt, and healing. And only 4,997 more souls to go.
Is It Any Good?
This dark but very funny novel takes on a lot of life's (and death's) big issues, without getting bogged down in heavy-handed, overly dramatic emotion. Bea's wry, sarcastic but very believable voice gives Layoverland a refreshing counterpoint to digging deep into life, death, love, friendship, family, and, of course, what happens at the end of our time on earth. As does the fact that she's actually not a very good person. But fist-time author Gabby Noone expertly tempers Bea's shortcomings by giving readers the ability to understand and empathize with Bea, and root for her as she starts to see herself and her choices in a new light.
Piecing together the story of the crash by going back and forth between Bea's and Caleb's stories, both leading up to the crash and in Layoverland itself, keep the pages of the well-structured plot turning. There's a certain amount of predictability when it comes to the romance, but the bittersweet ending doesn't just focus on that. A simple act of kindness toward a friend may just have you reaching for a tissue.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the strong language in Layoverland. Is it realistic? What's the big deal? Is reading those words different from hearing them on movies, videos, TV, etc.? What about reading them in texts and on social media?
What are some of your strongest takeaways from this book? Do you relate to what Bea learns about herself and her life?
Do you believe in an afterlife? If so, how do you picture it? What can reading other ideas and visions about the afterlife teach us about ourselves and our world?
- Author: Gabby Noone
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Razorbill
- Publication date: January 21, 2020
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: March 16, 2020
Our Editors Recommend
The Good Place
Incredibly original afterlife sitcom has charm, diversity.
The Rest of the Story
Sweet coming-of-ager explores family connections.
Sweet romance underscores bonds of friendship.
Five Feet Apart
Sweet love story of sick teens who aren't allowed to touch.
For kids who love romance
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