Enjoy this title right now, plus millions more, with a free trial

Only $9.99/month after trial. Cancel anytime.

The Other Life

The Other Life

Written by Ellen Meister

Narrated by Hillary Huber


The Other Life

Written by Ellen Meister

Narrated by Hillary Huber

ratings:
4/5 (27 ratings)
Length:
9 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Feb 23, 2011
ISBN:
9781452670287
Format:
Audiobook

Description

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?
Publisher:
Released:
Feb 23, 2011
ISBN:
9781452670287
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

A former advertising copywriter, Ellen Meister left the business world behind to raise a family and chase her fiction-writing dreams. She lives on Long Island with her husband and three children. This is her second novel.


Related to The Other Life

Related Audiobooks

Related Articles


Reviews

What people think about The Other Life

3.9
27 ratings / 23 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    This book grabbed me from the opening scene, where a pregnant woman is struggling between killing herself or giving birth to her baby. The writing is so clear and straight-forward that you are drawn in. I found myself thinking about the characters whenever I wasn't reading; I was certain they were real and wanted to know what they were up to. There is a supernatural element of the portals that take Quinn from her "real" life to her other life, but they are explained very well, and it was easy to picture the fissures and Quinn's travel without feeling like you'd been displaced into a sci-fi novel. The portals are logically discussed before the end of the book, and with the focus being more on people and relationships than the paranormal, I would say this book is literary fiction more so than being classified in any sub-genre.
  • (3/5)
    Interesting premise but a predictable ending.
  • (4/5)
    Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you had made different decisions? This book shows what Quinn's life would be like if she had stayed with her boyfriend. She finds a portal that can send her to that life.
  • (4/5)
    Happily married, pregnant for the second time, medical issues with the pregnancy and maybe with her husband...he was discussing the medical issues with everyone but Quinn. Quinn was beside herself because everything seemed to be going wrong with her life, and most of all she couldn't get over the temptation to slip through to the other life. This other life...the life where she could talk to her deceased mother and her ex-boyfriend Eugene...not the life she was leading now where her mother and Eugene were absent. She knew she shouldn't go there, but she couldn't help it. When she slipped into the other world, she could forget for a little while.Every time she saw a fissure in a wall, in a fireplace, in the basement...no matter where it was...she felt the pull and the need to go through the portal to the other life. She always returned after "the trip," but was never satisfied that the disappearance into the other life would be her last...she just couldn't make it her last trip…the urge was too powerful. Whenever Quinn slipped through the portal, my concern was that she wouldn't be able to get back to the present life. :) The book told the tale of Quinn's life/lives that included her son, Isaac, her husband, Lewis, her brother, Hayden, and her nosy neighbor, Georgette. They all had issues of their own and all seemed to rely on Quinn for help....little did they know that Quinn could use some help herself. The book will keep your interest and is what I am going to call on the other side of different along with many choices none of us wants to make in our life. :) My rating is a 4/5.
  • (4/5)
    Loved the book but would’ve liked an epilogue. Hate it when books end with so much unknown, makes it feel unfinished. Wrap it up and finish it already!
  • (4/5)
    From the outside looking in Quinn’s life seems ideal. From her wonderful husband to her adoring son she lives comfortably in a beautiful home with her happy family and another daughter on the way. When the news comes that her daughter may be less than perfect the pieces of her life slowly crumble away reminding her of how desperately she misses the mother who committed suicide just a few years prior. Just when all hope seems lost she’s suddenly aware of an “escape route”, an alternate choice and life that includes her living breathing mother but doesn’t include her husband and son. Will she choose to stay or venture to the other life permanently? Only her mother may be able to help.The Other Life was to me a book about coming to terms with the death of Quinn’s mother and also choosing to live the life she had been given. Who hasn’t wondered about a choice here and there? It’s as simple as thinking about the phrase, “the grass is always greener on the other side”. The question comes down to whether it truly is greener on the other side, or in Quinn’s case her “other life”? Her choice, in my opinion, was an open and shut case in the beginning, but as the novel progressed I grew to sympathize with her struggle.To be honest, when Quinn started talking about her life before meeting her husband Lewis I couldn’t see the appeal. Her ex-boyfriend Eugene was neurotic and borderline obsessive about her. I simply didn’t see the appeal in switching from a loving family to some guy who was basically crazy, not to mention much older than she was. Sure he had loads of money and was extremely successful, but I guess that just doesn’t work for me. It wasn’t until she discovered that in her other life her mother was still alive that things started to progress for me.Being a mother and a daughter as well as someone who has lost a close friend to suicide it was easy to relate to Quinn & her struggles. Coming to terms with the sudden death of someone that important to you is difficult enough without also wondering why they would choose to take their own life. Suicide is never something easily explained or dealt with and Quinn’s mother Nan is no exception to this. It was interesting for me to see Quinn struggle between traveling to her “other life” and staying within her own for those very reasons. She loved her life and her family, but needed answers and comfort. Who wouldn’t want to talk with their mother one more time no matter the cause of death? As a mother now I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called my own mother for the simplest of questions and despite our differences at times I don’t know how I’d cope with things without her.The Other Life by Ellen Meister was one of the most thought provoking novels I’ve read in a long time. Dealing with heavier issues like motherhood, suicide and mental illness were tackled easily by the addition of the magical realism Meister incorporated through the use of the portals Quinn travels through. It’s definitely a novel I’d recommend to readers who might enjoy a heavier more intense story line but still love authors like Cecelia Ahern and Sarah Addison Allen. Quinn’s relationships with her mother and her son make her travels between lives compelling and had me flipping the pages as fast as I could to see where she would end up. The Other Life is a wonderful novel that women’s fiction readers will absolutely love and I’m certain I’ll be picking up more of Ellen Meister’s books in the future because of it!Originally reviewed and copyrighted at my site, Chick Lit Reviews and News.
  • (5/5)
    THE OTHER LIFE, by Ellen Meister is totally mesmerizing and spellbinding; an exploration of a young woman, a mother--of parallel universes, a crossroad, a pivotal choice, and a glimpse of the other life, what could have been?Ellen creates a magical and emotional thought-provoking story of Quinn, a happily married woman –a wife and mother of a six year old son, who is pregnant and has received some heart breaking news about the unborn child she is carrying. She is now forced to make a very difficult choice, as is her husband. She misses her mother, Nan, an artist who committed suicide after years of depression.THE OTHER LIFE is about returning to the road not taken and exploring the life unlived. Have you ever longed to see what happened on the other road? Quinn needs and desires answers and is pulled to the basement of her house to the hidden door drawing her metaphorically to the other side, crossing over with a glimpse into the unknown. There are cracks in her life and foundation. Unresolved feelings with her mother's death. Will she remain on the other side? In the other life her mother would still be alive, and she would be childless and married to a different man. Will she allow herself to be pulled toward this strong force; her mother, or stay and fight for the family she now has and the baby with an unknown future? Is she up for the battle? Has she really understood her mother's suicide, her motives, and what about the meaning of the paintings? A powerful bond of mother/daughter relationship. Audiobook Recommendation Let me say, this is one book which I would recommend the audiobook. As an audible member, I listen to tons of audiobooks, and the narrator will make or break a book. In this case Meister’s clever and magical prose transports you to another level– Captivating with vivid descriptions; and the voice transcends you to an almost "dream state of mind". It was amazing how relaxed I became, hanging on to every word. I continued to rewind as so engrossing. Hillary Huber delivers an outstanding performance for a winning combination.After listening/reading, a book, I will often rate the book, and prior to the writing of my review may reflect a few days before returning; sometimes weeks, and often forget to return:). In the meantime, I am intrigued and want to learn the inspiration behind a book, and begin researching the web for fascinating tidbits.I would strongly encourage readers to visit Ellen’s website as she does a really good job of summarizing her books, her inspiration behind the book, and this one includes an in depth interview with the author, trailer, Q & A, discussion questions, and reviews.THE OTHER LIFE would make an ideal book, for book clubs and group discussions while exploring the different personalities and characters in the book. A nice celebration of life—the past and present, its messiness, overcoming grief, and the deep boundless love available when we embrace and bond together, versus taking the easy way out. On a side note: As all my reading friends are aware, I tend to read new and advanced reading copies, as part of my blog. When doing so, I am introduced to a world of newfound authors, as I enjoy a variety of different genres. Ellen Meister is one of those rare jewels. You fall in love with the book, the author, and her style. She writes across many genres and can be funny as heck, astute, clever, and profound and serious the next, making you want to read more of her books. Not only is she a talented author, she is such fun to communicate and connect with on Goodreads, Twitter, and other social media sites.Working my way backwards, starting from latest and upcoming Dorothy Parker Drank Here (Dorothy Parker #2), coming Feb 24, 2015, highly recommend Read My Review and you have to read the prequel, Farewell, Dorothy Parker (Dorothy Parker #1) loving the new glamorous savvy front cover, and now we come to the book at hand, THE OTHER LIFE—A magical and enchanting contemporary novel for women of all ages. Looking forward to reading more.Especially women-- as we move through life, we long sometimes for an escape (what is my exit strategy), whether it be through reading, writing, art, meditation, or other forms. This strong need could be brought upon by stress, grief, a difficult decision, or as we approach a certain age or milestone. As we become older, everyone reflects back upon a crossroad in our lives, whether work or business, and second guessing, which ultimately will change the course of our lives. As our beauty and youth diminishes, at age 30, 40, 50, 60+, we wake up and think, "how in the heck did I wind up here?" What if?A nice weekend escape . . .Loved the West Palm Beach, FL connection as I reside here in Urban Downtown trendy WPB in a former artist studio- historic 1920's cottage bungalow.
  • (2/5)
    What would you do if you could slip through a portal and live your “other life”? The life you left behind by the choices you made. That’s the dilemma Quinn Braverman faces. She is happily married and pregnant with her second child. She has known most of her life that she has the ability to slip between parallel worlds, but when Quinn receives the news that her unborn child may have developmental problems the need to talk to her (deceased) mother again overwhelms her and she makes the choice to go through that portal. She easily slips into a life where she is still childless, engaged to the man the she left behind and able to sit down and talk with her mother who is still very much alive.

    The plot of this book was intriguing and reading definitely made me think “what if”, but for me overall the read was a little flat.
  • (4/5)
    Happily married, pregnant for the second time, medical issues with the pregnancy and maybe with her husband...he was discussing the medical issues with everyone but Quinn. Quinn was beside herself because everything seemed to be going wrong with her life, and most of all she couldn't get over the temptation to slip through to the other life. This other life...the life where she could talk to her deceased mother and her ex-boyfriend Eugene...not the life she was leading now where her mother and Eugene were absent. She knew she shouldn't go there, but she couldn't help it. When she slipped into the other world, she could forget for a little while.Every time she saw a fissure in a wall, in a fireplace, in the basement...no matter where it was...she felt the pull and the need to go through the portal to the other life. She always returned after "the trip," but was never satisfied that the disappearance into the other life would be her last...she just couldn't make it her last trip…the urge was too powerful. Whenever Quinn slipped through the portal, my concern was that she wouldn't be able to get back to the present life. :) The book told the tale of Quinn's life/lives that included her son, Isaac, her husband, Lewis, her brother, Hayden, and her nosy neighbor, Georgette. They all had issues of their own and all seemed to rely on Quinn for help....little did they know that Quinn could use some help herself. The book will keep your interest and is what I am going to call on the other side of different along with many choices none of us wants to make in our life. :) My rating is a 4/5.
  • (3/5)
    If all you are looking for is a good read with some magical realism, and don’t mind a lack of depth in the logic of the travel from one reality to the other, then you will probably like this book. Although it was an entertaining read, it didn’t have the complexity I was looking for in the story.While I liked seeing the parallel life possibilities, I was disappointed with how Quinn experienced the parallel lives. When she moved from one reality into another she was always the same person, with the same memories from the original reality. Which meant that when she was in a parallel life she had no way of knowing what had happened to her in that past other than drawing conclusions from the circumstances that surrounded her.I wish that she would have had access to the memories of her alternate self, because I believe that the choices we make have a cascading effect on the person that we become. I think that a series of alternate choices would have changed how her personality developed. Because she didn’t have any of those memories she didn’t get to see who she might have been had she lived that life; she could only see how her actions had affected others. I felt like a huge opportunity was missed by not exploring these themes. Instead the author just scratches the surface of the issues.I’m willing to accept a lot of strangeness in fiction, especially when it comes to magical realism, so the oddness of the portals – how they seem to be in random static locations – was something I was able to accept as a facet of the story. What seemed strange to me was the manner in which the portals changed as the story progressed (I don’t want to give away anything here, so I won’t get into specifics). Again, I am willing to give a lot of leeway with magical realism, but I can’t help but think there could have been a more logical way of developing the portals within the plot.I did enjoy the back and forth thinking and inner debate of Quinn’s ethical and personal dilemma, and was pleased by her choice in the end. If you’re like me and want a deeper, more thought-provoking book about alternate realities, I suggest reading Lionel Shriver’s The Post Birthday World.
  • (3/5)
    Quinn Braverman is married with a son and finds out she's pregnant with a daughter who is most likely "damaged" (her word). This stress prompts her to pay attention to portals that she has fought to ignore, which open doorways to alternate lives where she made different choices.In her life with Lewis, Isaac and her unborn daughter with the birth defect, Quinn's mother has committed suicide, and Quinn struggles to deal with the loss daily. In the other life where Quinn lives with Eugene, her boyfriend before Lewis, her mother is still alive. Quinn travels back and forth to see her mother and return to her family.The premise of the book is good, but I just didn't care too much about Quinn. The author says she is giving and selfless, but I didn't feel it. All I felt was that she loved her mother more than anything and wanted to go to the other life to be with her. The only reason she didn't was because she didn't want to destroy her son Isaac. If not for Isaac, Quinn would have put up with Eugene's crap and not thought too much about Lewis so that she could be with her mom.Depression / mental illness is a sub-theme in the book, but it is not dealt with in any depth.None of the characters was really compelling. I lost interest towards the end, and the ending was predictable.
  • (5/5)
    I really loved this book. It deals with real world issues, but with a supernatural twist. We’ve all thought about "what might have been" a million times in our lives, but this novel answers the question for one woman. And, on top of that, she has to deal with all of life’s difficult, sometimes heart-wrenching problems, of which she has more than enough. I don't want to give anything away, though. Just know that it was thought-provoking, enticing, funny, sad, touching, and entertaining. It’s a bit like a Jodi Picoult novel with a pinch of Stephen King (not the evil clowns, pets, & cars King, but the other dimensions you can pass in & out of King). Wonderful! I cannot wait to get Meister's other books!
  • (2/5)
    I didn't connect very well with the heroine Quinn and how she felt the siren call of her "other life" through portals around her home and city. I actually thought the mental illness that plagued her brother and mother was going to be revealed as the answer to her dual nature. I enjoyed Meister's first two books much more and I guess I was looking for more of the same.
  • (4/5)
    I was very intrigued when I read the synopsis for this novel. I am one of those people who can't help but wonder what if? It's something I have always done. I wonder how different my life would have been if so-and-so had chosen me, if I had stayed in college, if I actually stuck to a diet , if I took that nanny job in Florida. So many questions without answers.When I picked up this novel I was expecting a nice light run of the mill novel about what ifs. If you have already guessed that's not what I got, you would be right. This novel is so much more. Yes, Quinn has the opportunity to see what her other life was like and yes, she can pass back and forth through them but it's so much more than that. There is so much I want to tell you about this novel, but like Jenn's last review, I can't because I don't want to give too much away. I really enjoyed the time I spent with Quinn. Ms. Meister created a real, giving, well rounded character. It was very easy to feel empathy, not sympathy for Quinn. She was strong beyond her own comprehension. My favorite character was Nan, Quinn's artist mother. Right from the beginning I felt a bond with the damaged woman who gave up everything for the sake of her family. I felt her struggles, I sat with her in that darkness, I saw the world through her eyes. She was beautifully flawed. If I had one literary wish, it would be for Ms. Meister to write Nan's story. I want to know where she began and what happened to bring her to her resolution. If you are looking for a nice light read, this novel isn't it. If you are looking for a novel that will bring you to tears in the best way possible, this is it. There is so much good in this novel. My favorite chapters are the Quinn Deconstruction paintings. I loved the way Nan describes the paintings. I could picture them in my minds eye. I would buy one if they were real.I leave you with this little morsel. There is a scene in the novel where a woman is crying out in anguish. Ms. Meister describes it as "It came from the place where loss met fury." Man, I loved that line. That's some good stuff. So good that I felt it too.
  • (4/5)
    If I knew I had another life, I would constantly wonder. Would I be jealous? Would I second guess my choices knowing there may be an alternative? Would I have the courage to try out that other life? This is what made Meister’s book so appealing to me --- yes, we can all fantasize about another life but it doesn’t exist. For the main character in The Other Life, it does.Quinn Braverman is living a happy life in Long Island with her husband Lewis and son Isaac. Pregnant with their second child, Quinn is crushed when she finds out something may seriously be wrong with the baby. Doctors can’t answer her questions and more than ever she longs to talk to her mother who committed suicide shortly after her marriage to Lewis. The simple, stable life she worked so hard for is slowly slipping away with each new day. But Quinn has a secret, one she barely lets herself think about --- she has another life. In her staid Long Island home, hidden in the basement behind an old ironing board is a portal to her other life. For years she stayed away from it never even letting herself imagine what it would be like but the stress associated with her pregnancy and the decisions she and Lewis may have to face regarding their baby’s life finally weigh on her. She finds herself hovering around the portal until one day, unable to ignore it any longer, she gives in and goes through. She finds herself back in the Manhattan apartment she shared with her ex-boyfriend and even more surprising --- her mother, Nan, is alive and well in this other world.The complications associated with Quinn’s pregnancy are certainly a reason for wanting to escape, but in truth, she wants to know why her mother took her own life. While Nan always had mental health issues which Quinn understood to be the underlying cause for her suicide, she never fully accepted her death. She misses her especially now when she’s questioning whether or not she will be able to care for a possibly disabled child. She keeps going back to her other life in the hope of understanding her mother better, but in many ways it seems she’s doing it to not just to escape a difficult situation --- which her pregnancy definitely is --- but she wants and needs closure over her mother’s death. But can she really leave her husband and child forever? Unfortunately, having a life with her mother in it means leaving everything she cherishes behind.Parts of this book fascinated me and others infuriated me. Quinn is a character you can identify with. She’s any woman living a life that one day takes an incredibly unexpected turn and she wants escape or at least a way to understand why things are happening. She has that means of escape and when she uses it the first time, I felt I understood, but when she kept going back I become frustrated with her. It was almost as if she really was trying to decide whether or not to abandon her family. Fortunately, Quinn isn’t a character I stayed annoyed with for very long. She was too likable for that, for me at least. Plus, I became fascinated by what she would find each time she slipped through the portal.In many ways this is a family story barring the other life portal which is just a means of examining the character’s life choices and her wondering if she made, and is making, the right decisions. Something we all do wonder about from time to time which makes this a particularly interesting story. Quinn is a strong character but she has her faults and I liked that she wasn’t able to do away with any of these faults simply by slipping into another world. Nan, Quinn’s mother, is another character I found myself drawn to much the way Quinn is. In the end, Meister leaves you with a bumpy road but one you’ll want to travel.
  • (5/5)
    Ellen Meister has posed the question in The Other Life that many of us have asked ourselves silently but have not expressed out loud or visited even in our wildest dreams. What would have my life have been like if I had taken that other life? The Other Life we have all had, those forks in the road, where we parted ways with or lost a love, a family member, or a course in our career. What if we were able to go back and revisit ourselves in that other life as it went along a separate dimension prior the fork in the road, separate from the life we live now? Would we choose the same one or "The Other Life"? Tough question, and for each of us, the circumstances both present and past are different but no less difficult to choose between. In the novel, Quinn Braverman is trying to choose between her present life which includes her adoring husband, her first child, and occurs during the pregnancy of her second child or her previous life with a very famous but needy, non committal boyfriend of 10 years and her mother. Her mother had committed suicide shortly after her "fork in the road" and the marriage to her present husband, and before the birth of either of her children. Her mother is who she misses terribly, and needs to connect with her for advice. Even though she is angry at her mother for leaving all of them, she can revisit the place where neither of them knew what the future held or what part the past had played to set up their future lives. Unfortunately, for Quinn, when she visits this other life she does so through the apartment that she occupied with her boyfriend of 10 years and he becomes a participant in her other life.This may be starting to sound like another version of The Time Traveler's Wife but it isn't. Don't get me wrong. I loved that book as well but I did not even associate the two until long after I finished The Other Life. Enjoy this book, and see if you can answer the question and make the decision Quinn had to make.
  • (5/5)
    Quinn is a young mother expecting her second baby. She is happy with her husband and son until something horrible happens: her to be bor baby girl's life is threatened by a rear sickness: not only she could die but in case she survives the birth she could be brain damaged. What to do?Quinn needs her mother but she can only talk to her paintings at her father's house.The situation is so overwhelming that leads her back to her childhood's experience of another life. Somewhere, someplace, there is another Quinn. A Quinn who didn't marry but shose worse problem is to accept her rich and famous boyfirend proposal during a fabolous holiday in the Fiji.The real Quinn starts finding portals leading her to the other Quinn's life: basically she is drawned by her need to see her mum, but she obviously gets involved with her boyfiriend and going back and frth gets harder and harder.Eventually she manages to get her eart to heart talking with her mother and surprisingly she decides to go back, close the portals, mourn her mother and give the abby girl and herself a chance to live another life.Very touching and involving, the plot is sustained by tragicomical characters and scenes, like the one where Quinn gets his brother's boyfiend arrested and then tries eveerithing to rescue him and make uo with her mistakes.Enjoy!
  • (3/5)
    The Short of It:This book had me squirming in my seat. It asks the “tough” questions. The ones that we don’t like to ask ourselves unless we have to. The Rest of It:Quinn Braverman is happily married to Lewis. She has one son and is expecting a baby. This should be a joyous time for them all, but Quinn struggles with what she’s been given. Her life seems “safe” and at times, a bit mundane. When she discovers a problem with the pregnancy, she is forced to consider her options. Most of us, when faced with a grave decision, make the decision based on any number of things. We look for support in those close to us. We seek guidance from professionals, etc. But Quinn? Quinn’s a bit different because she can actually escape her current life, to visit her “other” life, where she is dating Eugene and doesn’t have to face any tough decisions. Through a portal in her basement, she attempts to live both lives.As much as I enjoy portals and the idea of parallel universes, I struggled with the premise. Not so much the idea of it, because I can certainly suspend my disbelief in order to enjoy the story, but the execution of the portal pieces, didn’t come together for me so much. The appearance and the placement of the portals seemed a bit convenient and I had a tough time believing that a pregnant woman would even attempt to go through one, not knowing what would happen to the baby on the other side.With that said, I was surprised at how anxious I was to get back to reading it! Some readers might argue this point but Quinn is a selfish character. Not overtly so, not enough to hate her, but enough to make me shake my head over her decisions. I kept reading it though because I wanted to see what she would do next and how her decisions would affect her life with Lewis and her son.Overall, this would be a great vacation book. There is enough of a story here to make you want to turn the pages, yet it’s not just bubble-gum lit in that there is nothing to think about. Oh, there’s plenty to think about and if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself frustrated over Quinn’s decisions, but also cheering her on in the end.
  • (4/5)
    Quinn Braverman is struggling. The thirty-something beloved wife and mother of a six year old boy, Quinn has just found out the child she’s carrying has a severe birth defect. She’s also not quite past the despair of having lost her mother to suicide many years before, a fact that Quinn blames on herself. Her homosexual brother, also the recipient of the mental illness that robbed Quinn of her mother, is involved with a man who may or may not be totally wrong for him, and under the pressures of her life, Quinn is mildly despondent.But there’s something special about Quinn: She has the ability to access special portals that will enable her to squeeze back into the life she left behind, and this, more than anything she is going through right now, is a constant pressure in her life. When she finally can’t resist the temptation to flee her everyday life anymore, Quinn steps into the portal to see just what would have happened if she hadn’t married her husband or had her son. This other life is more glamorous but also has its drawbacks, as she is confronted with Eugene, the neurotic and dependant radio-star boyfriend whom she left behind and who totally monopolizes her time and attention. But the thing that really excites Quinn about this alternate reality is that, in this world, her mother is still alive.As the stress and pressure begin to mount for Quinn in her everyday life, she begins to cross over more and more frequently, exploring her other life in intimate detail. Crossing back and forth between her two lives through the portal, Quinn discovers that she can choose to stay in either life but that there are stiff consequences to staying in either. But time is running out, and as Quinn grapples with returning to Eugene and her mother or staying put in a life with a very damaged infant on the way, the choice to flit between worlds might be something that doesn’t rest in her hands alone. In this mystical and heart-wrenching tale of a woman and her two very different lives, Ellen Meister explores the what-ifs of of woman who is struggling with more than she alone can bear.When I was first approached to participate in this tour, I took a look at the book that was being featured and began to be very excited. Who hasn’t wished they could look into the abyss and discover the secrets of the road not taken? For me, the road probably would have looked a lot like a tragedy, but I can imagine other people, women in particular, might have some feelings of excitement and longing to discover what could have happened had they made different choices. I have to admit I was really rather excited about this book because I felt it would be vicariously thrilling to discover what Quinn found on the other side, and if she would feel a pull to stay there after all the trauma began to come down on her in her everyday life.Quinn was an excellent character to be able to get invested with. She was very different from most women in fiction because she admitted to herself and those surrounding her that to feel complete, she had to feel needed and essential. This was one of the stumbling blocks she had in her marriage to her husband Lewis. He felt the need to coddle and protect her, and her role in his life was much like the role she played in Eugene’s life all those years ago. When Quinn discovers her portal back into Eugene’s life, this force of being needed was one of the things that drew her in. Of course it wasn’t the only factor because after Quinn learned of her daughter’s birth defect, it seemed that the portal was her escape and her refuge. The choices Quinn had to make regarding her daughter were gut-wrenching to read about and the way Meister explored them was very realistic. She was fraught with the idea of terminating the pregnancy and had to weigh that against raising a child that may or may not survive at all. That alone would have pushed me through the portal, but Quinn was made of very solid stuff and had the ability to manage one crisis after the other with grace and fortitude. One can certainly argue that Quinn’s frequent passage through the portal was her way of escaping and coping, not merely satisfying her curiosity about a life she left behind.One of the main cruxes of the book was the relationship that Quinn had with her mother. As a mentally ill woman, Nan was torn in her ability to raise her children lovingly and in her ability to deal with the crippling depression that eventually forced her to take her own life. Like a lot of children who survive after a parent’s suicide, Quinn harbored a lot of guilt over Nan’s fate and somehow felt that her mother’s ultimate action was a direct effect of Quinn’s decision to marry Lewis. When she steps through the portal for the first time and discovers that Nan is indeed alive in this world, the stakes go up for Quinn tremendously. How can she go back to a world where her mother doesn’t exist and where she’s going to have to cope with life-altering changes? The problem with this is that by staying in her alternate universe, she would lose her son, essentially doing the same thing to her child that her mother had done to her. I imagine the choices Quinn had to make were more than unnerving and very frightening, and the way that Meister captures Quinn’s uncertainty over these convolutions of her fate were rather thought-provoking.The reality and science behind these portals were never explained in any detail other than the fact of how they were thought to come into existence, and to me this wasn’t bothersome. The story sort of blended a mix of women’s fiction with a light touch of science fiction, and the effect was a bit mystical. The existence of the portals was something that elevated this story beyond the scope of women’s fiction, though if I was pressed, I would have to stick to that description of the book’s genre. The tension of this pseudo-duel storyline was palpable, and as Quinn made more and more trips over to the other side, I became nervous for her safety and mental stability. In the end, the story leaves a little to the reader’s imagination in regards to what will eventually happen with Quinn and her choice, but overall, the lessons imparted and the conclusion of Quinn’s fate were handled with a lot of sensitivity and what I felt to be courage.I ended up liking this book a great deal and felt it had some of the hallmarks of the film Sliding Doors. It was emotional and intriguing in a very vivid and unique way, and by creating tension and believability in both story lines, I think that Meister hit a sweet spot with this book. If you’re the sort of person who enjoys something a little more unique and moving in your women’s fiction choices, I would have to say this book would probably be a great fit for you. Its impact and scope really impressed me, and it’s a book that I would definitely recommend.
  • (4/5)
    "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth."Who, like the narrator in Robert Frost's poem, has not wondered at the course his or her life has taken? How would different choices, especially those at major crossroads, have changed our lives and us? What would that other life look like? This is the question at the center of Ellen Meister's novel The Other Life. Her main character, Quinn, has long sensed the actual existence of lives where she chose differently; she can even touch those other lives. And yet she has avoided the temptation to see what her life would have been like had she not chosen to leave her emotionally needy boyfriend for the stable, loving man she married. She is grounded by her love for her 6 year old son but when she discovers that the baby she is pregnant with has a serious, perhaps fatal condition, she can no longer contain her curiousity about her other life in her rush to escape the terrible, gut-wrenching truth of this pregnancy.Pushing through the portal in her basement, Quinn enters the life she would have had if she had stayed with her shock jock DJ boyfriend Eugene all those years before. Her life couldn't be more different but the thing that makes Quinn unable to let go of her hold on this alternate life is the fact that here, in this version of reality, her bi-polar artist mother did not commit suicide, did not leave a gaping hole in Quinn's life.As Quinn moves back and forth between her two lives, albeit with increasing difficulty physically, she must confront the harshness of life. She has to decide the fate of her unborn baby, grieve for the absence of her mother in her originally chosen life, learn to trust and rely on her husband's love, and be the mother than her son needs. Most of all, Quinn has to accept that our decisions may be irretrievable but that they shape us and give us strength to keep walking down the path we have chosen.Quinn is a deeply conflicted main character who has to confront and accept some terrible things: the loss of a parent, news of a congenital defect in her unborn child, mental illness in a sibling. Her fears and her longing for what she can only have in her other life (her mother's presence) is so clear it reaches off the page and grabs the reader. She is a very sympathetic and complex character and the reader wants her to make the right choice, be in the life she should inhabit, even if that means unimaginable loss. The secondary characters round Quinn out, helping to develop and show her character fully. Her desperate grasp for a world where she doesn't have worries and cares so immense is completely understandable and real. The pacing of the plot is consistent and steady and the storyline itself is compelling. The themes of love and loss are well-drawn and realistic and the ending of the story is really quite perfectly written. I don't know that I'd want to see what any of my "other lives" look like but I enjoyed my glimpse into the possibility as presented here. This book would be a fantastic choice for reading groups given its premise and all the issues Meister raises.
  • (4/5)
    First sentence: On the day that Nan Gilbert decided to kill herself, she awoke sometime after noon to the sound of her neighbor playing the radio in his backyard.Quinn has known for a long time that there are portals open to her; portals that lead to a life that she could have led by making a different decision here or there. There's even one in her basement behind the old-fashioned pull-out ironing board. Her mother had her own secrets, and we sense that she knew about the portals before she died after losing her battle with depression.With a much-loved 6-year-old son Isaac and her loving husband, Lewis, Quinn should feel satisfied and happy with her life. When she finds out that the new baby she's carrying has a congenital defect that could cause a lifetime of impairment, she feels that Lewis is shutting her out, talking to everyone except her about his feelings. Her brother Hayden is bipolar as well, and she worries about him and his partner Cordell, who she dislikes and feels doesn't treat her brother well.As her life becomes more complicated, Quinn begins to journey back and forth from this life to the other. The other life ... where her mother is still alive, her old beau is rich and famous, and she has no worries about her baby. The problem: this is not a parallel life; when she goes to the other life, she is missing in this one...and it's getting harder and harder for her to come back.I think many of us have those "What if's" in our lives, and this book does a good job of letting us know that we journeyed down a certain path for a reason. I enjoyed the book; Quinn is a believable and likeable protagonist, and the secondary characters are wonderful as well. I like some of the twists that let us know that people we thought were not-so-great are pretty great after all, and the complex and loving familial emotion is spot on. QUOTES (from and ARC; may be different in final copy):But of course that was Quinn's nature - she was a caregiver. All those years of handling her mother's moods had taken root in her psyche, and Quinn grew toward the troubled like a plant seeking sunlight.She was crying because a grown-up writer believed that beautiful sentences weren't wasted on children. And because even as an adult, she still struggled to believe she deserved any tenderness at all.If she had only stayed with Eugene, her mother would be alive now. It didn't mean she didn't love Lewis and Isaac with all her heart, but the unfairness of the trade-off was too much to bear.Writing: 4 out of 5 starsPlot: 4 out of 5 starsCharacters: 4 out of 5 starsReading Immersion: 4 out 5 starsBOOK RATING: 4 out of 5 stars
  • (4/5)
    In quantum physics there is a theory that many universes exist parallel to each other. That the universe we exist in may be just one in an endless multiverse, each with a separate reality. And that every choice we have does happen. And every decision we make in this universe has an opposite reality in another one. If you could travel between these universes, would you?From the time she was a young child, Quinn Braverman knew about the portal to another life. She was warned to never go there, that it was dangerous. Her mother knew, her brother did too, but no one talked about it. As an adult, she knows she has another life on the other side of that portal, the life where she never left her neurotic boyfriend and was still living a fast paced life with him in New York City instead of her life in this reality where she is married, living in the suburbs and now pregnant with their second child.Quinn also knows that her mother, who committed suicide in this life, is still alive in that other reality, and Quinn desperately wants to see her mother again. After a particularly stressful week, one in which Quinn learns there are problems with her pregnancy, she makes the decision to go through the portal to the other life. It’s alright, she figures, because she can come right back; but each time the journey gets more difficult and Quinn must make a decision, which life does she want to live in.The relationships Quinn has with her family and friends is the overriding theme in this book, the primary one being between mother and daughter, but also important is the relationship Quinn has with her own family. Quinn is torn by her indecisiveness and second guesses many of her decisions. She’s not sure if she did the right thing by leaving Eugene, her neurotic boyfriend, all those years ago. She cannot forgive her mother for leaving her and yet she risks doing the same thing to her family every time she passes through the portal to the other life. What if she can’t get back?Ultimately this is a story about working through grief, learning to forgive and realizing what is truly important in life. Suspend your reality and believe that Quinn could travel between worlds. Then ask yourself what would you do? This book brings to the surface a lot of excellent discussion questions and could be a good choice for book club.Recommended for those who like women’s fiction and can believe in the fantasy of the unbelievable.
  • (5/5)
    I devoured this book. I mean, I've been on a bit of a reading diet lately due to school and other real life nonsense but this book... this book refused to let me out of its grip. It wasn't that it was necessarily a very different story, or unique, or strange - it was just that it was a very compelling story. A story that dealt with life and death, with decisions, with family relationships and choices that may not always be the easiest ones to live with. Quinn is faced with a decision - the decision to live one very hard life or choose a life that, although it contains its own problems (nothing is perfect), would ultimately be an easier one for her - one where she'd be the one taken care of rather then the one facing a lifetime of care. Which does she choose? That's for the story to tell.I never once felt this story drag, and had it been written less beautifully I think it might have. There's not a lot of action, not a lot of much that actually happens on a day to day basis, but the internal struggles of the characters and the decisions being laid out before the reader are enough to keep the momentum going.The Other Life will make a fantastic book club read and will be on my mind quite a bit in the upcoming days. And of course, I'm very grateful to it for getting me back into the "reading groove".