Review: The Other Life by Ellen Meister

The Other Life by Ellen Meister

A Berkley Book

Published by Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2011

Description (from the author’s website)

What if you could return to the road not taken?

Quinn Braverman is keeping two secrets from her loving husband, Lewis. One is that the real reason she chose him over Eugene, her neurotic, semi-famous ex-boyfriend, was to prove to her mother that she couldhave a happy, stable relationship with the guy next door.

The other is that Quinn knows another life exists in which she made the other choice and stayed with Eugene. The two lives run in parallel lines, like highways on opposite sides of a mountain. There, on the other side, the Quinn who stayed with Eugene is speeding through her high-drama, childless life in Manhattan. Here, the Quinn who married Lewis lives in the suburbs, drives a Volvo, and has an adorable young son with another baby on the way.

But the important part of the secret—the part that terrifies and thrills her—is that she knows it’s possible to cross from one life to the other. So far she’s played it safe, never venturing over to see what’s on the other side. Then a shocking turn of events rattles Quinn to her very core, and she makes the reckless choice to finally see what she’s been missing.

There, she not only rediscovers her exciting single life, but meets 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?

My Review (3 Stars: Liked it!)

Thirty-four year old, Quinn, housewife and mother, has a secret.  She can escape her current life and enter a portal, not to the past or future, but to an alternate life and then return.  In her current life she is expecting a new baby with potential birth defects.  She decides to pass through the portal and discovers her mother who had committed suicide is there.  Also, in this alternate life she is carrying on with her old boyfriend, the one she left to marry her current husband.  So, from that short description, you might see, that many questions are raised while reading this story.

I enjoyed reading about the events occurring in both Quinn’s current life and her alternate life.  Questions always remain when a loved one commits suicide.  Quinn is able to ask her mother about it.  The portal begins to close, and Quinn has to decide which life to stay with.

At the end of the book, there are discussion questions which would help to create a lively bookclub discussion.

First Line

“QUINN BRAVERMAN HAD TWO SECRETS SHE KEPT FROM her husband.  One was that the real reason she chose him over Eugene, her neurotic, self-loathing, semi-famous ex-boyfriend, was to prove her mother wrong.  She could have a relationship with a normal, stable man.”

About The Author (from the author’s webpage)

Ellen Meister is the author of DOROTHY PARKER DRANK HERE (Putnam 2015), FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER (Putnam 2013), THE OTHER LIFE (Putnam 2011), THE SMART ONE (HarperCollins 2008) and SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA (HarperCollins 2006), as well as numerous essays and short stories. Ellen teaches creative writing at Hofstra University Continuing Education, mentors emerging authors, lectures on Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, and does public speaking about her books and other writing-related topics. Ellen is the voice of Dorothy Parker on her hugely popular Facebook page.


  1. I think this one sounds interesting. I always am drawn to these parallel lives stories and mean to read them. Don’t always follow through on that aim. Putting The Other Life on my list.


  2. I enjoy parallel lives, or “sliding doors” type of stories. I can’t seem to find very many though that I think I would enjoy, but I’m putting this title on my wishlist and will actively look for it. Thank you, Pat.


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