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Touching the Surface Hardcover – October 30, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (October 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442440023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442440029
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #753,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Elliot is a third-timer at the Obmil, the afterlife limbo between heaven and hell where people are sent to learn from their previous mistakes. She has returned after causing the car wreck that killed a young man when she reached for her ringing cell phone. This time she will be expected to Delve, an afterlife process that forces a person to revisit his or her previous life; it’s a painful self-examination made more so because Elliot’s Delve involves Oliver, the boy she killed, and his older brother Trevor. How could they both forgive her when she is unable to forgive herself? And why is her best friend, Julia, avoiding her in this third afterlife? First-time-novelist Sabatini has created an intriguing new world for teens, one that speculates about what happens to souls upon death, especially if the death has been traumatic or self-inflicted. It’s a didactic but effective lesson in love, forgiveness, and self-understanding made more palatable by Elliot’s love for the two brothers and the drama that surrounds the other third-timers in the Obmil. Grades 8-11. --Frances Bradburn

Review

"Sabatini creates an exquisitely tangible alternate reality, ordering the cosmos with impressive authorial derring-do, crafting answers to ontological questions with grace, disarming simplicity, and nary a trace of dogma. All while believable teens--teen souls, that is--tangle with affection, selfishness, and doubt. Thought-provoking and romantic, Touching the Surface takes risks with narrative and form, and succeeds on multiple levels." --RBW (Chronogram)

“Soulful and inventive. A thoroughly original vision for what happens next.” --Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds

“This gorgeous, lyrical read will sweep you away.” --Jessica Verday, bestselling author of The Hollow trilogy

More About the Author

Kimberly Sabatini is a former Special Education Teacher who is now a stay-at-home mom and a part-time dance instructor for three and four year olds. After her dad passed away in 2005, she used writing as a way to make sense of the experience and discovered that she's full of questions that need to be answered. She lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband and three boys. Kimberly writes Young Adult fiction and is a member of the SCBWI (The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) and she's also a member of two debut author groups-the Class of 2k12 and the Apocalypsies. She is represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency and thrilled to be part of the "Wolf Pack." TOUCHING THE SURFACE is her debut novel. (Simon Pulse - Simon & Schuster, October 30, 2012)

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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I love the character growth she has in this story.
Kaitlyn (The Bookworm)
For a story so unique and unusual, Sabatini somehow found a way to write it in a very easy to comprehend way.
Heather R.
This is a really beautiful book that deals with heartfelt emotions, like love and loss.
Monica Bustamante Wagner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BookcaseLaura on November 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book was beautiful. Not just the writing, although the publisher's description of "lyrical" is accurate, but also the story - and evolution of the characters. It was apparent from the start that Ms. Sabatini could write, but I worried that my initial dislike of the main character Elliot would ruin my enjoyment of the rest of the book. I was relieved to find that as Elliot grew and learned and changed, so did my perception of her. Which I believe is wonderfully fitting, given that the entire book is really all about that - redemption, evolution and eventual acceptance. It's odd that a book set in such an abstract place could feel so real, yet it does, and that's in part due to the fact that the characters feel like people you could know. They are flawed, some majorly so, but that's the whole point - if they were perfect, they wouldn't be there. At times, I did feel a bit disoriented by the twisty fantastical world created by Ms. Sabatini (or rather, by her characters ;)) - but I think that only added to my connection to the characters themselves as I felt some of their confusion.

"Being brave isn't about not being scared. Being brave is what you do despite being scared." - Trevor
(That one's going into my all time favorite book quotes, by the way.)

My favorite character by far was the brooding Trevor, who plays the tortured hero role extremely well. The constantly changing quips on his t-shirt were such a clever way to get a glimpse inside his mind and were some of my favorite lines in the book. There's a bit of a love triangle (or a love trapezoid perhaps) involving Trevor, Elliot, and the nearly perfect good boy Oliver, but it wasn't overly angst-y as so many YA novels can get.

Touching the Surface is a beautiful story of love and redemption.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Heather R. on October 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Originally reviewed at:[...]
Touching the Surface is an unusual book. The entire book takes place in the Obmil, or Limbo, the place between Heaven and Hell. The characters that we meet, protagonist Elliot, her ex-best friend, Julia, Mel, a counselor at the Obmil, Trevor and Oliver and the rest are not exactly people, but souls. Souls that have wound up back at the Obmil, which is, as you might surmise, a holding area of sorts. The place a soul goes after "death", and before the soul moves on to it's next "life." The quotation marks are because saying a soul lives or dies doesn't sound accurate, does it? It's difficult to explain and difficult to describe. But one thing you should know is that although this book deals with religious themes, souls, heaven, hell, reincarnation, limbo, it is not a preachy book. It's not a Christian book or a Buddhist book, it's sort of a universally spiritual book. Different aspects of different religious belief systems are mashed up together. I like this, I like that Sabatini picks and chooses certain things from these different belief systems and creates a uniquely spiritual story all its own.

Elliot is a 'third timer', she's a soul that has lived three lives and has once again returned to the Obmil. This is significant because the "rules" seem to state that a soul should reach enlightenment before three lifetimes. I'm not sure if this is the way the story goes in Buddhist doctrine or if this is Sabatini's invention, but Elliot is back as is her best friend Julia, the soul she has been closest to in two of her past three lives. When Elliot and other souls return to the Obmil, they do not instantly remember their past lives. The Obmil is portrayed as one big group therapy session of sorts (which I think is so VERY cool.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christina (A Reader of Fictions) on October 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
One of my very favorite subgenres of fiction deals with stories about the afterlife. I spend a rather indecent amount of time considering what life after death might consist of and my only completed work of fiction dealt with that topic. Touching the Surface has been on my radar because of its subject matter, its beautiful cover (which looks like the work of my friend Annie and fits the book perfectly), and the author's participation in the Apocalypsies. As ever when embarking upon a book with high hopes, I dreaded disappointment, but instead found a beautiful, quirky, emotional, clever, sweet, dark, magical read.

Sabatini's vision of the afterlife enthralled my imagination completely. She combines familiar concepts into something fresh and compelling. The concept of reincarnation has always called to me far more than most religious ideas, so I loved that Sabatini included that. She also put her own spin on it with the idea that, on a soul's third failure to reach some sort of enlightenment and whatever next step that brings, the soul's memories are wiped. This forces delving, a slow recapturing of the previous life's memories that allows for deeper reflection and analysis, removing preconceptions and errors kept in ordinary memory. Delving is also a group experience, not just a personal one, so that others can try to help the Third Timers figure out what has kept them from moving on.

Another fascinating element of this is the bodiless nature of the characters. They are all technically embodied throughout the book, but they have not always worn that body. In her first life, Elliot and her best friend Julia were twin brothers named Arty and Jim. The souls simply continue to wear the body and use the name of their last life until they reenter the stream to a new one.
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