I loved The Other Life by Ellen Meister!!! Let’s just get that out of the way right off the start. Wow, it sure makes you ask yourself some interesting questions like…Do you ever wonder if we live parallel lives? Do you ever wonder about the road not taken? Would you be willing to give up your life to take that other road and live that other life? What if you couldn’t ever come back? The Other Life by Ellen Meister will keep you reading into the late hours of the night (like it did for me) as you fly through the pages wondering just where this, at times heart wrenching but hopeful and moving novel, will take you.
Quinn, a wife and mother of Isaac, has always known that there was a portal to another life, different from the one she was living; one that would show her what her life would be like if she had chosen that alternate path. She has always felt the urge to know what was beyond but she has resisted; that is until now when she receives the worst news – there are medical issues with the baby she is carrying. Now the need to know what is on the other side is overwhelming – what if she had taken the other path – would things be different?
In Quinn’s basement, there is a fissure in the wall which is the portal to her alternate reality. When she goes near it she feels the pull of the other world trying to lure her through. However in this life she has a wonderful husband and a beautiful son who need her. With everything going on with her pregnancy Quinn can’t resist going through the portal to see what’s on the other side. In her alternate reality she finds her ex-boyfriend Eugene and the life she would have had with him. Most importantly one that still includes her mother.
In her life with Lewis, Quinn’s mother had committed suicide years ago. On her first visit to her life with Eugene she is shocked to learn that in this life, her mother still lives. Once her shock wears off, she is anxious to hear her mother’s voice again and see her. Gosh, who wouldn’t give everything to see a loved one again, especially a parent – to be able to talk to them again, to hug them, to tell them you love them. For Quinn, it’s even more important. Her mother, Nan, had been bipolar and depressed most of Quinn’s life and Quinn feels that she bears some responsibility for her mother taking her own life. Quinn has so many questions for her mother, she needs answers to so many things to be able to be at peace with herself and live her life in one world or the other.
I really liked Quinn. I couldn’t relate to her in terms of what she was going through with her pregnancy but I could in terms of being curious as to what was on the other side. I would love to know how different my life would have been if I had taken other paths instead of the one I did. Quinn is left with no easy decision – her family on one hand and her mother and an easier life on the other. A mother who she has mended some fences with, one she wishes she could still have with her. What will Quinn decide to do? Will she stay with Eugene? Will she stay with her mother and be able to build on their relationship? Or will she be a mother herself and realize that nothing matters more than her own small son?
There are other secondary characters in this novel as well that were wonderful. I liked Quinn’s brother Hayden and his boyfriend Cordell. Quinn’s husband Lewis sounded almost too good to be true – a man who just wanted his wife to be happy. Quinn’s crazy neighbor Georgette was a real hoot with her online affairs and such. I was very intrigued by Quinn’s mother Nan too. She did have bipolar disorder so that already put her at a disadvantage somewhat especially when she would go into depressive states. Yet at the same time, while her life was hard for her, she still put her daughter first at one time.
This is a complex story about the relationships we have with people, particularly the relationships between mothers and daughters. It also forces us to look deep within ourselves and question what we would do in Quinn’s position. Would we give up what we have to live our other life? And ultimately would it end up being any better? Nothing in life is perfect – just because the grass seems greener on the other side doesn’t necessarily mean it is. However, if I was given a chance to spend some time with some of my loved ones who are now gone, I’m pretty sure I’d head through that portal.
To read The Other Life by Ellen Meister you do have to suspend belief because some may shoo at this idea of portals. I’m not one of them because I believe in things I can’t see and I do think that there are alternate realities living parallel to mine. I think it took a creative mind to put together this novel and I found it fascinating. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. I think it would be such a fantastic pick for a book club. There are so many different angles of discussion in this book from family, children, suicide, and the big one – taking that different road in life or being able to take a trip to see what it might have been like without having to give up what you have now.
I read The Other Life by Ellen Meister for her book tour with TLC Book Tours. Be sure to check out what others think of the book at the other tour stops here. You can also visit Ellen’s website, her blog, and follow her on Twitter @EllenMeister. Your own copy of The Other Life by Ellen Meister can be purchased here in the US and here in Canada.
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My copy of The Other Life by Ellen Meister was received for review from TLC Book Tours and the publisher.