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Touching the Surface Hardcover – 30 Oct 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (30 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442440023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442440029
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 3.3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,051,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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

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

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first words out of my mouth after reading this book were "Beautiful. Simply beautiful". It almost goes beyond words and you'll see what I mean if you decide to read it. Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini is an impressive debut novel that was a little different to what I expected as the book is set in the afterlife. It tells the story of Elliot who's a third timer - she's lived and died three times now and obviously isn't getting something right so she's stuck at the Obmil (think spiritual rehab for the dead) trying to figure out who she was, how she died and her growth plan amongst other things. Throw in some best friend issues, a guy called Oliver who she has an instant soul connection with and a guy called Trevor who hates her guts but doesn't know why and you've got an interesting story on your hands. The only way to figure it all out is to "delve" for their memories which is akin to slipping into a moment on earth and experiencing it all over again but will they figure it all out? Can they learn from their mistakes?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I was constantly driven on by the need for answers to those burning questions about the characters and how they were connected. I can't say too much about the plot for fear of spoiling it but some explanations will shock you and when it all comes together at the end; I was well and truly floored. If you're a spiritual person (note, I did NOT say religious), you'll probably appreciate some of the content perhaps more than readers who aren't but all in all, it's a fantastic book that needs to be read and appreciated.

Basically, reading Touching the Surface is akin to slowly sipping and alcoholic drink and by the end, you're drunk on life and realise you love everyone. This was a fantastic standalone and very different to anything I've read so far. If you're after a different sort of YA read, THIS IS IT.
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Format: Paperback
Original and unpredictable, this is a beautifully written novel of love, forgiveness and coming to terms with who we really are. The story was revealed slowly, layer by layer and I was kept captivated throughout and seduced by the depth of the characters.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching, heartbreaking and so relatable 8 Oct. 2016
By K. McQuaide - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Looking directly and clear-eyed at our mistakes and failings is the only way we grow into the person we want to be.

Touching the Surface explores this concept in a beautiful and unique rendering of the afterlife with four characters on their journey to enlightenment. The author, Kimberly Sabatini, builds a rich and intricate limbo where each soul “creates” their environment around them. This magical manifestation moves the story forward as the main character, a 17-year-old girl named Elliot, creates obstacles and throws up barriers—anything to avoid looking at what she fears most.

Eliot is in limbo with her best friend and soulmate, and I found their relationship and soul struggle touching, heartbreaking and so relatable. How do you let the people you love grow and change in the way they need to? Especially when it is in stark contrast from you “need” them to be?

At it’s heart the book is about the struggle to see yourself and accept yourself as you are. Only then can you love and accept others as they are.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gorgeously written story with humor and depth... 13 Jan. 2013
By T. Sparks - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in a story is to find an author who knows how to slowly reveal her story's secrets. Kimberly Sabatini does this by taking our hands and leading us into a strange and wondrous version of the afterlife, a world where the dead are trying to figure out what comes next, and the answers are not at all clear-cut. This is the type of book that really makes you think. Through story the author is asking each of us to take stock of how we live our lives, and evaluate whether or not we're on the right path. But don't be scared off by this seemingly heavy subject matter; Touching the Surface is also a funny, romantic, and nail-biting story full of quirky characters and gorgeous imagery.

When the story begins, a girl named Elliott has just been pulled out of a lake, and moments later realizes that she is back at the Obmil for the third time. Elliott, you see, has just died again, and the fact that she's here in this familiar place tells her that something has gone wrong in her previous life. We are introduced to a host of characters who are also trying to work out their issues and who all seem to be connected to Elliott in one way or another. Elliott is especially drawn to two boys, Oliver and Trevor. Oliver is sweet and friendly and seems to have had a positive relationship with Elliott in her last life. Trevor, however, is an angry young man who despises Elliott and tries to avoid her, despite the fact that he cannot stay away from her. But the relationship among the three of them is much more complicated that you think, and Sabatini uses all 300+ pages to slowly peel back the layers of their stories, only revealing the truths near the end. Mixed in with this drama is a girl named Julia, a girl who has traveled with Elliott through all three of her lives but decides it might be for the best to leave Elliott behind and find her path without her friend, a decision that confuses and hurts them both.

Elliott and her friends must participate in "delving," a way of reliving a past life in order to remember significant moments. But she is terrified that whatever event caused her to end up here will be too painful of a memory, so Elliott tries to avoid delving as long as possible. It is only with Trevor's help that she finds the courage to face the past and move on. This is not a story that is easy to predict. More than once I fell into the trap of thinking I had things figured out, only to be surprised when events unfolded quite differently than I expected.

One of my favorite parts of Touching the Surface is the way the Obmil constantly shifts and changes. Residents are able to project and create whatever reality they want or need, and so the scenery and weather are always in flux. (It reminded me a bit of the individual "heavens" in The Lovely Bones.) Each physical reality a character creates not only adds an interesting layer to the story, but works as a metaphor to describe what that character is trying to work through. And speaking of characters, I loved all the complicated but ultimately satisfying relationships between Elliott and her friends in the afterlife. You might not understand them all at first, but Sabatini gets to the bottom of each character's soul in surprising and revealing ways. I also loved Kimberly's writing, which is lovely and poetic and full of emotion. After all, souls at the Obmil are working through some pretty disturbing memories, and the prose lets the emotions of the characters shine through.

Kudos to Sabatini for being brave enough, in a very crowded YA market where many books are starting to feel the same, to break the mold and write a story with depth and heart, a story that makes the reader think about things like soul mates, heaven and hell, and whether or not the path you take in this life will have repercussions in the next. I suspect that everyone who reads this book will take away something different from it, which is exactly the way it should be.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Quirky, Lovely Tale 27 Aug. 2013
By Znoshi - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Touching the Surface was a book I had heard of from many friends. Most of them loved it. I was hesitant to read this book though, because it was about the afterlife-it kind of scared me that it might turn out to be outrageously sad. But, thankfully it turned out to be much lighter than anticipated, which is a good thing.

Now, I'm not saying this book doesn't have it's heartfelt moments and deep ones. But...I think overall, the characters made the book wonderfully quirky and fun. Each of them had issues of course( and ones most of us can relate to)-but just most of their attitudes were fun and light.

Touching the Surface is definitely a book I would call strange. That's why I would instantly call it quirky. But it was quirky and strange in a beautiful, lyrical way.

I can't say I have read many afterlife books, but I can ensure you that this book is a lovely way to take a new perspective on life(err, afterlife that is).

I'm definitely going to be checking out Kimberly's other works!
5.0 out of 5 stars Not just surface 19 Nov. 2012
By CindiJeanie - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a chronic book-starter, but it's a rare book that keeps me reading all the way to the end. This was one did. The premise was interesting and Kimberly Sabatini's characters and poetic but quirky writing made it more than just a ho-hum book that happens to have one cool idea in there. It was surprising and twisty and difficult to put down. Recommended!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for younger readers, but a little immature for adults who like YA books 27 Dec. 2012
By The Rekindled Reader - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Touching the Surface tried to be profound - and maybe if I'd been reading it between lunch and 5th period I might have thought it was. But it seemed any significance I came away with at the end I'd already learned sometime before getting my high school diploma.

Elliot, or at least that's her "current" (?) identity is a third-timer at the Obmil. Contrary to my initial thoughts, the Obmil isn't a strange-shaped windmill or a nightclub in the Netherlands, it's a resort-style-rehab for the recently departed who died without learning some greater message about their previous life on earth. Kind of like Promises, Malibu, for spirit screw-ups.

Elliot was a 17-year-old girl when she died in her most recent life, but she doesn't remember how it happened or why she's back at the Obmil. To find out what she missed and, hopefully, move on to the next level of existence (no one knows what that is), she must Delve (purposely capitalized) with other third-timers through flashbacks of their previous lives.

It soon becomes apparent that Elliot has a link with two boys - a Mr. Perfect named Oliver (I picture him like Freddie Prince Junior in Scooby Doo) and the dark and brooding Trevor.

I shouldn't have to draw you a picture here that the rest of the story goes something like: girl searches for deeper meaning in life while being torn between two boys. Truthfully, that part of the story was pretty interesting. Well, moderately interesting. I enjoyed the dynamic between Elliot and Trevor and there were several pretty intense moments that had me on the edge of my seat wondering what was going to happen between them.

The writing was good and I particularly enjoyed the imagery surrounding the Obmil - how the guests created it with their own thoughts and visions.

If it weren't for the fact that the main plot of this book was for the main character to reach some higher level of consciousness, it would have been a good book. But, well, it was and it wasn't.

Instead of true soul searching, the book relied on Delves that told the characters who they had been in a previous life, but I don't feel like it really answered any questions about why they were there.

By the end of the book, I just didn't feel like Elliot made any significant growth. Her "lesson learned" was more or less handed to her as an afterthought and, in my opinion, it wasn't something that was so earth shattering that she should've been stuck at the Obmil for the third time over.

This wasn't a bad book, but I just felt like it could've been done so much better.
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