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The Other Life

The Other Life

3.9 46
by Ellen Meister

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If you could return to the road not taken...would you?

Quinn Braverman has a perfect life, with a loving husband, an adorable son, and another baby on the way.

Quinn also has an ominous secret: she knows that another version of her life exists...one in which she made totally different life choices. But she's never been tempted to switch lives-until a


If you could return to the road not taken...would you?

Quinn Braverman has a perfect life, with a loving husband, an adorable son, and another baby on the way.

Quinn also has an ominous secret: she knows that another version of her life exists...one in which she made totally different life choices. But she's never been tempted to switch lives-until a shocking turn of events pushes her to cross over, and she discovers the one person she thought she'd lost forever: Her mother.

But Quinn can't have both lives. Soon, she must decide which she really wants-the one she has...or the other life...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Meister (Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA) ineffectively tackles the question of what one would do if it were possible to choose the path not taken. When 36-year-old Quinn Braverman, a happily married mother of a six-year-old boy, learns that her unborn daughter has a potentially fatal brain abnormality, she's overcome with the desire to just let her own life wash away. As a child, Quinn discovered she could float from one life to another through portals. In the laundry room of her Long Island home, Quinn has found such a gateway in a crack in the wall and decides to go back to the glitzy life she could have led if she had not left her neurotic ex-boyfriend for her husband. In this other life, she can also seek the comforts of her mother, who, in Quinn's current state of being, killed herself as a result of depression. Quinn repeatedly chooses to go back to her "what if" life, knowing that leaving her son and husband behind could emotionally scar them forever. Quinn's selfishness overshadows any sympathy to be had for her character. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews

Instead of her usual lighthearted comedy, Meister (The Smart One,2008, etc.) attempts spiritual uplift with this semi-supernatural story about a Long Island woman in crisis who accesses portals to an alternative life.

In the 1973 prologue, pregnant and depressed Nan goes into labor as she is attempting suicide. Thirty-six years later Nan's daughter Quinn is living a comfortable suburban life with husband Lewis, who owns a fleet of taxi cabs, and 6-year-old son Isaac, a sensitive artistic prodigy. Pregnant with their second child, Quinn loves Lewis, but she is keeping two secrets: one, that she married him in part to prove to her mother—bipolar Nan, who committed suicide years earlier in 2002—that she could choose a normal guy; and two, that she is aware of the existence of a parallel world in which she is still with her old boyfriend, shock jock Eugene. Quinn carefully avoids the "portal" she knows waits for her in the basement, a "rupture in her universe." Then amniocentesis reveals that the baby she is carrying has a rupture in her skull that may cause major birth defects or worse. Deciding what to do about her pregnancy, Quinn is drawn through the portal into a world where she lives an exciting, childless life with neurotic but exciting Eugene and where Nan is still alive—Nan evidently opened up the portal during her suicide attempt/birthing. As life in her married present gets more stressful, Quinn travels more frequently through the portal to be with Nan, and therefore Eugene. Not that there is much suspense about what choices she is going to make. She'd never desert little Isaac, and Lewis is a selflessly devoted husband, while Eugene is not only creepy but increasingly less attractive. And although the pregnancy is fraught with problems, the overtly stated pro-choice, anti-abortion message makes the outcome a no-brainer.

Despite the (rickety) fantasy bells and whistles, the end result is a standard-issue domestic tearjerker.

From the Publisher
"This is the thinking woman's beach read, a love story to the modern family, written with a deep and lovely understanding of mothers and daughters and the sacrifices they'll make for each other." ---Joshilyn Jackson, author of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"This is the thinking woman's beach read, a love story to the modern family, written with a deep and lovely understanding of mothers and daughters and the sacrifices they'll make for each other." —-Joshilyn Jackson, author of The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

Meet the Author

Ellen Meister lives on Long Island with her husband and three children.

Customer Reviews

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The Other Life 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
nyauthoress More than 1 year ago
The Other Life is fascinating, original and intriguing. Exploring the complexities of mother/daughter dynamics, the book examines the consequences when that love is put to the ultimate test. If you are longing for invigorating, relevant writing over a broad emotional plane, you will love this book. Be prepared to be touched deeply. What would you do if you had the option of escaping from today into a life that might have been yours had you made different choices? Quinn Braverman finds portals to the life she might have led to be irresistible lures. She vacillates between her present-day life and the road not taken throughout the novel. We find ourselves relating to Quinn and her family in one time frame and then, just as our comfort zone is set, we are drawn into Quinn's alternate life. Grieving over an abnormality in her unborn baby, Quinn desperately seeks comfort from her dead mother, Nan. However, in that alternate life, Nan had tormented her daughter with unpredictable episodes of depression. Complicated? Yes. Grief, emotional chaos and the difficulty of making the right choices abound. Ms. Meister handles all of this tricky business with ease. Some descriptions of sexual encounters are included, but they do not overwhelm the book. Author, wife, mother, curator, and lecturer on literary issues, Ellen Meister created a masterpiece in her new novel, The Other Life. A departure from her earlier light, hilarious books, The Other Life not only explores mother/daughter love but is also a tribute both to its blessings and curses. In an interview, Ms. Meister stated that book clubs enjoy novels with fresh writing, complex characters and emotional dilemmas to which readers can relate. She met that challenge with this creative tour de force. The book is interspersed with metaphorically brilliant vignettes called "Quinn Deconstructed," a series of paintings done by Nan. Each depicts Nan's perceptions of Quinn's earlier life. There are other stunning touches. A suicide note in the form of a painting. A house not put on the market for seventeen years to preserve a child's memories. A pink infant's outfit kept by a mother in anticipation of her granddaughter's birth. The Other Life is a riveting read for thoughtful women. Recommended for book clubs, mothers, daughters, and anyone who longs for the listening ear of a deceased, loving parent. I thank G. P. Putnam's Sons for supplying me with a review copy. The opinions expressed in my review are unbiased and wholly my own. Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LOVED this book! I admit, I had never even heard of Ellen Meister! The story line had me so intrigued and I bought it for my NOOK and have been unable to put it down! You will not be disappointed!
AshleyBodette More than 1 year ago
When I first started listening to this book, I never meant it to be one that I was going to review on my blog. It was simply meant to be a diversion while I spent an hour each day in my car on my way to and from work. But what I found was I couldn't stop listening. I was listening to it during my prep period at school, before my students came in. I was listening to it while grading worksheets. And once I got toward the end, I was even listening to it before getting out of bed in the morning. I left my review on Goodreads, as usual, (5 stars) but after reading some other terrible reviews, I decided I needed to move my review to a wider platform, because people need to give this story a chance. Now, it was quite obvious to me, from the beginning, that this couldn't quite TOTALLY relate to real life, as there are portals to Quinn's 'other life' in the story...portals like this don't actually exist, so of course there is an element of the paranormal, or whatever you might wish to call it. However, that doesn't mean that these portals can't teach us something about real-life situations. Normally, I try to focus on the characters when I give my reviews, for at least a good portion of the review, but this time, I want to focus on the story as a whole, and I'm not going to give ANYTHING away about what happens. There is plenty of spoiler-ish information in the blurb. :) I'm going to leave you now with the review I left on Goodreads, and the hope that you will give this fantastic story about life, love, hope, despair, and choices a chance: I loved this story. It made me laugh, it made me ugly cry, and it made me think. There are a lot of crazy things going on in this book, and some people might say it's unrealistic. But there are so many things to be learned from this story. The only thing I truly found unreastic in this story were the portals, and I choose to look at them as the metaphore they are: the 'what ifs' and regrets, and our inability to let go of the past. If you read this book, rather than searching for reality in its pages, search for the truths of the human condition. You might be surprised at the things you are able to relate to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall, I was extremely happy with this novel. There would be a couple times where there would be a lull and the next thing I knew, POW! It would stun me with a twist or a shocking revelation. My jaw dropped a few times and I'm sure my husband thought I was crazy. I would be quietly reading and suddenly blurt out "Whoa's" and "OH! Wow" I was surprised by some of the conroversial topics discussed but I applaud the authors boldness and bravery. She was very raw with her charactors. I was so absorbed by this story. Toward the end, it was like pulling teeth to get me away from my Nook. When I was reading, I felt like I was going through that Portal with Quinn!
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
Sometimes we get to a point in our lives and wonder if we could go back and change things would we? Quinn Braverman has always had a unique ability to find portals as her brother has come to call them. Places in her life where she can find a sliver of a dual reality if only she were brave enough to take the risk and peer inside. She knows her other self lives there making different choices than the one she has made. In her world she has married a safe man, Lewis. He was the owner of a taxi cab company and has provided her the stability in her life she has needed. She also has a six year old son, Issac whom she adores. Now pregnant with the possibility that her new daughter may be born with a serious birth defect and not survive, Quinn is desperate to see just what her other life may be like. Yet what is she can't get back? What really lies on the other side? In the novel, The Other Life by Ellen Meister, Quinn gets the opportunity to do just that. To see what her life would have been like if she made different choices, she also gets the opportunity to talk to her mom, who had committed suicide in her current life. What will she say to her? Will it change anything now? I received this book, compliments of TLC Book Tours for my honest review and LOVED it! What a unique and interesting storyline for this author to take and makes us all wonder what our choices would be like if we had taken a different path. This one rates a 5 out of 5 stars!
momnstepmom325 More than 1 year ago
Okay, so I had done this already once before, but then the cover was added and the publication date was added as well. So, here I go again. This is a MUST READ! Seriously people. Ellen Meister has written a beautiful tale of the struggles every woman faces in her life. The wondering of "what if". I was given a pre-copy and I loved this book from cover to cover and over and over again! I have even posted on my Facebook page about how wonderful the book is, and when Ellen posted out to her Cafemom friends about the trailer that was made for it, that video went up too! This is a wonderful book, an absolute MUST read for everyone! I can't wait to get the published version so that I can have BOTH copies!
Anonymous 3 months ago
I have read this numerous times & love it more and more each time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
When I read the blurb for this book I was struck with this question, What if? Of course I had to give the book a go and just see where it would take me. Would it take me to a happy ever after ending or an ending with nothing but regret. Once I got started with this book I fast realized that it wasn’t a book to be rushed. I would read and let things soak in. I would sit back and think to myself . . “What would I do if I were in Quinn’s shoes?” Some very touchy subjects are worked through in this book. Opening views on things I never gave much thought to. In the end I still wasn’t sure if I would have taken the same path as Quinn, or if I would have walked another road. What I was sure of was, it’s very important to know that each decision we make today changes the path we take tomorrow. Should we try to be a superhero and do it all, we might just cave under all that pressure. Asking for help doesn’t make you any less of a person; if anything it makes you a stronger person. Stronger because you were able to realize a weakness and speak up, not just hide it allowing the pressure of feeling less weigh you down. We have all sat and wondering what our life would have been like if we had done this or that. This book gives us the chance to kind of see just what that other path may have had in store for us. If you are looking for a book that is going to pull at your heartstrings and make you think about life, this is the book for you. Review by Stephanie O. Book provided by publisher. Review originally posted @ Romancing the Book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Please don't tell the whole plot, it spoils it for everyone else and is inconsiderate. Why read the book if you already know the story. Shame
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RaterOfYA More than 1 year ago
If the synopsis interests you, then you will not be let down. This book delivers! Nice job Ellen Meister!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book very much - such an interesting idea for a story. Must read!
kat610 More than 1 year ago
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!
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
So many readers have pondered Robert Frost's poem where one wonders what life would have been like on "The Road Not Taken." But what if one had the opportunity to do just that, to see what life would yield if one had made a different decision about one's lover or spouse, one's job or anything else one considers of ultimate importance? Quinn Braverman lives two lives. As a child, she learned that there were portals she could enter that would take her to another world. Her mother knows about these entrances into another world existing at the same time as the present one but full of different places and "other" people. Quinn isn't a very secure person and at one time ditched her needy ex-boyfriend, Eugene, to marry Lewis, the man who is caring, observant, and totally in tune with pleasing Quinn rather than himself! Sounds like a dream, right? But Quinn's life is suddenly turned upside down when she discovers her pregnancy is in danger and the baby she is carrying has a huge medical problem. So is suburban life with this new devastating problem one to continue or should she see what it would be like if she had actually stayed with Eugene in his musical, citified life?Where would she be and more important, who would she be in that other world? It's a terrifying journey yet one Quinn cannot stop pursuing. There's a mystery connected with her deceased, artistic mother to which Quinn seeks an answer, hoping to achieve peace with her presently questionable life. She seems to sense that the answers will not only determine what her marriage will be like in the future but also help her make the very important decision about this as yet unborn child. The Other Life is riveting reading and finely written. It deserves a wide audience for its tense, complex, and yes, painful but beautiful world! Finely done, Ms. Meister!!!
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Michelle Coffey More than 1 year ago
Though at times the writing is choppy, the author does a fine job of fleshing out many issues - suicide and mental illness, pro-life vs. abortion, gay marriage, the nature of fidelity and cheating, the daunting prospect of raising a special needs child - and she does it in only 245 pages. I found her perspectives on grief and loss especially moving.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago