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Cover image for The gone away place
The gone away place

First edition.
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.
Physical Description:
295 pages ; 22 cm
After tornadoes demolish Newfoundland, Ohio, Ellie, seventeen, is haunted by ghosts of the dead, as well as survivors struggling to cope, but a chance encounter shows her how to free the lingering spirits.


Call Number
TEEN Barzak, C.
TEEN Barzak, C.

On Order



From Stonewall Honor author Christopher Barzak comes a haunting novel of love and loss, in which a series of tornadoes rips through a small midwest town, forever altering the lives of those who live there.

Ellie heads up her high school yearbook, and until the tornadoes come, her biggest worry is how to raise enough money to print them. But since the day when a rash of powerful tornadoes touched down in Newfoundland, Ohio--killing more than half of the students in her school, not to mention dozens more people throughout the town--she's been haunted: by the ghosts of her best friends, by the boy next door, even by her boyfriend. And the living are haunting her too, all those left behind in the storm's wake to cope with the "gone away" pieces in their lives. A chance encounter with one ghost leads Ellie to discover a way to free the spirits that have been lingering since the storm, and she learns that she's not the only one seeing the ghosts--it's a town-wide epidemic.

Author Notes

Chris Barzak's stories have appeared in a many venues, including Nerve, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Teeth, Interfictions, Asimov's, and Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. Chris lives in Youngstown, Ohio, where he teaches fiction writing in the Northeast Ohio MFA program at Youngstown State University. Find Chris on Twitter at @cbarzak or christopherbarzak.com

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up-It only took a couple hours for high school senior Ellie's life to be changed forever. When a series of tornadoes hits her small Ohio town, the results are devastating. Ellie's school, her friends, and her boyfriend Noah are gone. In the following days and weeks, Ellie must find a way to cope with such an extreme loss and find a way to move on. The people who died in the tornadoes, however, cannot move on and are stuck in a gray area unable to find their way into the afterlife. Most wander the town looking for the loved ones they left behind, but some have far darker pursuits. Adding depth to the plot, the story is told from the alternating viewpoints of Ellie, the ghosts left behind, and the adults in Ellie's life. While the subject matter is bleak, Barzak writes in a way that the darkness of the plot doesn't overwhelm readers. As teens move through the book, the darkness gives way to hope and a satisfying ending. This is an incredibly moving book that seamlessly blends reality with the paranormal. VERDICT Perfect for fans of Gayle Forman's If I Stay, this would be a wonderful addition to YA collections.-Jayna Ramsey, Douglas County Libraries in Parker, CO © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Barzak (Wonders of the Invisible World) shows his expertise in conjuring a palpable sense of otherworldliness in this sad and eerie tale set in Ohio. Following a fight with her boyfriend, Noah, high school senior Ellie Frame decides to skip school to go to the lighthouse, a town landmark and popular refuge for teens. Here, she witnesses a succession of tornadoes that flatten much of the town and kill 150 people, including her three best friends and Noah. Reeling from grief, Ellie begins to see something over the next few weeks-the ghosts of people she knew, all of whom speak to her as though they were alive. Others in town have seen ghosts, too, and Ellie broods over why Noah, the person she misses most, has failed to make an appearance. The gray aura of tragedy might be oppressive if not for the book's suspenseful elements and glimmers of light, small miracles that inspire hope and emotional healing. Ellie's quest to find Noah and help other ghosts who want to be released from their bonds to earth is highly spiritual and deeply moving. Ages 14-up. Agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Just before graduation, Ellie's small Ohio hometown is decimated by tornadoes; Ellie's the only survivor of her close-knit friend group. Soon, Ellie realizes she can see and speak to the ghosts of her friends; she helps some move on, but others struggle. The heavy, pervasive grief makes for slow, sometimes tedious reading. An author's note reveals the intriguing, true-life inspiration for this supernatural tale. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A teen must face her own trauma even as she helps her dead friends find peace in Barzak's (Wonders of the Invisible World, 2015, etc.) latest.A fight with her boyfriend, Noah, about his friendship with a lonely girl ruins Ellie Frame's day but, to her horror, also saves her life. After she drives away to nurse her anger, a series of tornadoes devastates her Midwestern town, hurtling a gas tanker into the high school and killing Ellie's closest friendsand Noah. Survivor guilt plagues Ellie as she tries desperately to move forward as if all is well, a task made infinitely more difficult as the ghosts of her friends begin to appear and speak to her. Alternating between Ellie's perspective and those of others in her communitysurvivors and ghosts alikethis narrative of testimony and bearing witness has an immediacy that draws readers in despite sometimes descending into oration with more telling than showing. It explores the functions of storytelling in helping the living cope and the dead reflect on events from the afterlife. The mystery of what is keeping the spirits from their final rest and the looming threat of ghosts with scores to settle create an absorbing read. All characters are white other than Ellie's Latina therapist and Japanese-American friend.A Stranger Things-Twister mash-up for fans of (super)natural thrills. (Thriller. 14-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Barzak (Wonders of the Invisible World, 2015) was 10 years old when a devastating tornado hit his hometown. Now, more than 30 years later, the author uses this experience to inspire his latest story. High-school senior Ellie Frame is not at school when a series of cyclones destroys her city. Being away saves Ellie's life, but it means that she is the only one of her friends left alive afterward. Ellie's journey through the grief of her tremendous losses is one that will deeply impact readers, many of whom will identify with the experience of having friends or loved ones die unexpectedly. Barzak's personal, poetic prose deftly exposes the complexity of grief, particularly in Ellie's eventual goodbye to her friends, which gives a tangible form to an emotional act. But most of all, this is a novel about the importance of stories, reminding readers to be seen and heard; this is what will move us forward, both individually and as a society.--Simmons, Florence Copyright 2018 Booklist