Rating:

Reviewed by Jennifer Jensen

Years ago Quinn Braverman made a choice between two men, a high strung writer climbing the ladder of fame, and a down-to-earth taxi cab business owner. Now pregnant again with her second child, Quinn and her husband Lewis have learned that their unborn child will be born with a disability. While the happily married couple debates whether to go through with the pregnancy or terminate it, Quinn reflects on how her life might have turned out if she had stayed with Eugene instead of marrying Lewis.

Quinn has always known there was a way for her to see her Other Life. As young children, Quinn and her younger brother Hayden discovered a portal that would take them to another life, the one they would lead if they had made a different decision. Quinn travels through the portal as she deals with one of the toughest decisions she will ever have to make, and discovers she would have led a childless life with Eugene full of parties and luxurious vacations–but also with the mother she lost years ago to suicide whom she desperately misses. The more trips Quinn takes between her parallel lives, the harder it becomes physically to return to her life with Lewis and her son Isaac.

The Other Life by Ellen Meister is a book that will haunt the reader and make him or her question every decision ever made. As you read it, you will ponder this question: If I could step into another life where I made different choices, would I? This is exactly what Meister’s protagonist Quinn must ask herself. At first, Quinn is merely curious about this portal she has always known about. Though she doesn’t miss Eugene and believes she married the right man, she keeps allowing herself to go back because she misses her mother. Why does her mother live because she stayed with Eugene, but die because she married Lewis? Will Quinn stay in her other life so her mother doesn’t have to die?

The Other Life reminded me of a Gwyneth Paltrow movie I saw years ago called Sliding Doors. I had always thought a story like that one would make a compelling novel, and that is what Ellen Meister has created with her debut novel. Meister’s writing style is beautiful and poetic, but I got lost in her some of her transitions between the two lives. I really had to pay attention to the tense she used to figure out which of Quinn’s realities I was currently in. Overall, this is a thought-provoking novel and I look forward to seeing what’s next for Ellen Meister.

Rating: 3/5

Jennifer graduated from the University of Utah with a BA in English. She occasionally dabbles with her own fiction writing, particularly with the Young Adult and Paranormal genres. She currently resides in Utah with her husband and daughter. 

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Putnam Adult. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.