Title: The Other Life
Author: Ellen Meister
Publisher: Putnam Adult
Publication Date: February 17, 2011
Hardcover: 320 pages
If you could return to the road not taken, would you?
Happily married and pregnant, Quinn Braverman has an ominous secret. Every time she makes a major life decision, she knows an alternate reality exists in which she made the opposite choice-not only that, she knows how to cross over. But even in her darkest moments-like her mother’s suicide-Quinn hasn’t been tempted to slip through…until she receives devastating news about the baby she’s carrying.
The grief lures her to peek across the portal, and before she knows it she’s in the midst of the other life: the life in which she married another man, and is childless. The life in which her mother is still very much alive.
Quinn is forced to make a heartbreaking choice. Will she stay with the family she loves and her severely disabled child? Or will an easier life-and the primal need to be with her mother-win out?
The premise behind The Other Life by Ellen Meister is intriguing and well executed in a rather clever manner. Quinn has a wonderful life, she is happily married to Lewis and they live in the suburbs of Long Island with their son Isaac and are expecting their second child. Yet Quinn has a secret she has never shared with Lewis: She is able to travel between parallel worlds through various portals. In her other life, Quinn is childless but her mother Nan is alive, and Quinn is still with Eugene, a spoiled man who cares more about himself than anyone or anything else. As difficulties arise with her pregnancy, Quinn finds herself going through the portal more often to be near her mother. The Other Life is a story of love, friendship and the bonds between mother and child. Meister manages to take the reader into both of Quinn’s lives and each one is vividly portrayed and seamlessly placed. Thankfully the book contains many characters since, with the exception of Eugene, Quinn is my least favourite character, and while I could feel for her, I simply could not relate with her or understand many of her actions. I adored Nan’s “Quinn Deconstructed” series, sweet and vulnerable brother Hayden, Quinn’s patient and loving husband Lewis, artistically inclined and darling Isaac, and even their quirky neighbour Georgette. Throughout the book I struggled with whether or not this book was one I was truly enjoying, I did not reach a conclusion until the last quarter of the book. The scene with Isaac and “The Wall” was pure genius, but I cannot say more due to spoilers; however, know it is well worth the wait. Meister has constructed an exquisite book, one which shows, rather than asks, the “what if” questions in one’s life. Ultimately Quinn must decide on a path in The Other Life, a beautiful look at the love between mothers and their children, healing, loss, and unconditional love. I would recommend The Other Life, especially to book discussion groups, as there are numerous threads to discuss including the path Quinn chooses.
Ellen Meister lives on Long Island with her husband and three children.
For more reviews of the book, please follow the book tour.
I received a complimentary copy of The Other Life by Ellen Meister from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.