The Other Life

By Ellen Meister
Publisher:Putnam Adult, (2/17/2011)

Average Rating:
Mildly Unleashable
2.88 out of 5 (8 Clubie's ratings)

Buy Now From
buy it now from Amazon
buy it now from Barns and Noble
buy it now from Indie Bookstore

What if you could return to the road not taken?

Happily married with a young son and another child on the way, Quinn Braverman has the perfect life. She also has an ominous secret. Every time she makes a major life decision, she knows an alternative 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 visit . . . until she receives shattering news about the baby she's carrying.

Desperate to escape her grief, Quinn slips through the portal that leads to her other life: the life in which she stayed with her exciting but neurotic ex- boyfriend, and is childless. The life in which-as she is amazed to discover-her mother is still very much alive.

Quinn is soon forced to make an impossible choice. Will she stay with the family she loves and face the painful challenges that lie ahead? Or will a more carefree life-and the primal lure of being with her mother-pull her into her other life for good?

This gripping emotional journey is both shocking and poignant . . . as the bonds of love are put to the ultimate test.
Like this book? Then you might also like these...


Alice_Wonder's thoughts on "The Other Life"
updated on:4/17/2011

Mildly Unleashable

Reese's thoughts on "The Other Life"
updated on:4/4/2011

This book is GREAT for discussion. A book which seems to stretch across a bunch of different “genres or themes” within its own story and introduces so many different life issues your head could spin. Life issues that readers can relate to, choices and regret, marriage, families, mother/child bond, love vs. neediness, depression, urban vs. suburban….all bound up in “what if you could go back to the road in life you didn’t take”.   Sounds good huh. See how your life could have been. I’m not so sure anymore!  The somewhat irony of this book is that it seems to be based on the fact that Quinn – in giving in to the portal and creating a choice for herself of which life to take - her life with Eugene vs. her “real” life with her husband and son, Lewis and Issac.  Yet, it really was all wrapped up in her not being able to let go of a mother who let go of her in the most selfish way possible. Eugene seemed to be kind of an afterthought/excuse to this. Which by the way he should be! Go Lewis!!  Quinn appears to thrive on love by being needed, yet ultimately she is the neediest character in the book and chooses to leave the one person/life in the book that actually fulfills her needs…for a mother who never could seem to!  I don’t find the ending redeeming for her mother. Again some good stuff to discuss!


Very Unleashable

Sam's thoughts on "The Other Life"
updated on:4/4/2011

At first it was hard to find a way or even a word to describe my thoughts on this book. So I ended up with the word “fascinating” because I can’t say I liked it or didn’t like it…I just kept reading it because I was fascinated. So, I consider that a good thing. Normally it is a little more black or white for me of enjoying books that offer to make you think about life with their intended plots and characters, but this book had such a smorgasbord of human issues that I felt I was pinball. Not in a confused way (the story flowed along for me) but in a “get a grip” kind of way.  And saying that is not intended to diminish the real life challenges in the book. Quinn, the main character was dealing with these very real human issues but I didn’t really feel for her because of the obvious nature of what she should choose. And sadly I was disturbed with the choice she made and disturbed that her mother (not my favorite) was the one who “remade the choice” that was right all along. Fascinating.

Unleash it

Steph's thoughts on "The Other Life"
updated on:4/4/2011

Quinn Braverman is a woman faced with a distressing reality, a place we have all inhabited at some point.  What distinguishes Quinn from the rest of us (or at least me) is that Quinn has access to an alternate reality.  Due to circumstances that are explained later in the book, Quinn has the ability to travel between her current life with her husband and son and a parallel life where her mother is still alive and she is not burdened by the troubling circumstances she has been dealt.  Her foray into the alternate reality is not an easy one in either a psychological or physical sense.  In fact, it becomes increasingly more difficult to make the passage between her present life and her “other life”.  Rather than finding Quinn’s ability alienating and unrelatable, I think the author, Ellen Meister, used it to great effect to relate the pain of loss and to punctuate the consequences of our choices.  This book also heightened my sense of appreciation for living in the moment.  As I was reading this book, my father underwent emergency surgery and is thankfully doing fine, but I could not help but wonder what if…I know this review is a bit of a jumbled mess, but The Other Life really roused a lot of emotions in me.  I will only add, since other reviewers mentioned “sci fi” and “romance” that I had no prior notion of where The Other Life might be shelved in the book store, but my impression upon completing it is that it was neither.  It may dabble in both, but I wouldn’t say it is firmly entrenched in either, which for me was a positive.  I can say with no uncertainty that I savored every moment of this book.


Nick's thoughts on "The Other Life"
updated on:4/2/2011

I gave this book the benefit of the doubt. I'm enough of a sci fi geek to have been at least mildly intrigued by the alternate universe concept at the heart of the story. But ultimately, it just doesn't work. On rare occasions with a book or film, I can actually pinpoint the exact moment when I turned against it, and this is one of those stories. In the beginning, I was buying Quinn's sneaking off to her other life here and there and getting more and more anxious about getting back in time. So when she randomly goes through a portal when checking out a place for her brother's wedding and winds up in Fiji...yeah, that was it for me. I slogged through but I never really bought into Quinn's motivations for doing much of anything she did. Neither love story  made a whole lot of sense and I didn't understand how Quinn could constantly go back and forth between being on almost obsessive mother to thinking about leaving her family entirely to spend time with her mother who had been dead for 7 years and who, as far as I could tell, was mostly a lousy mother to begin with. And the ultimate explanation of why she could travel between universes didn't make a lick of sense to me. The characters were vague and the ending was unsatisfying. Bits and pieces of the writing are well done, but the whole thing just doesn't hold together for me. Maybe it hits a home run in another universe, but in this one "The Other Life" kind of stumbles. 

Do not Unleash

Ceci's thoughts on "The Other Life"
updated on:4/1/2011

I wasn’t too far into The Other Life before I was longing to do almost anything other than read this book. Alternate universes, parallel lives, and the road not taken (or taken after all) are usually irresistible catnip for me. But this story was less subtle than a daytime soap opera. With rare exception, the characters are so obvious in their flaws and virtues that it is clear from the outset which life Quinn will choose – which life she has to choose. Try Lionel Shriver’s, The Post-Birthday World, for a 5 out of 5 story that explores similar themes.

Do not Unleash

Book Junky's thoughts on "The Other Life"
updated on:3/31/2011

If you like romance novels, you will like this book. … but I am not a fan of romance novels. From the description, I was not expecting this to be one, so I felt DUPED! And I was more than a little annoyed by that too. There is still plenty to discuss at a book club gathering, but there was a little too much "oh, I desire him AND I still desire to be with him too", when there was really no contest and there was not even a conflict for the main character Quinn. So that was a little pointless to me. The mother-daughter angle was much more interesting… But overall, this was not half as interesting or heartwarming as I was expecting. The portals to these alternate lives with different choices made is such an interesting concept- which is totally up my ally, but even that wasn't working for me here. And the main character, Quinn, was not that interesting either… Overall, interesting concept that just did not have the guts, plot, depth of characters… anything. I'd give this a 2 star personally, maybe even a 1, but I think it will still provide enough content for good conversation, so that brings it up a 3 for me. BARELY. You know what, no it's a 2. Sorry. If you aren't, poo-poo on romances, as I am, and want an easy read that will still give you enough to talk about, you might like this - but … this was not for me. 

Mildly Unleashable

Silver's Reviews's thoughts on "The Other Life"
updated on:3/31/2011

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 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.


"The Other Life"
By Ellen Meister

Average Rating:
Mildly Unleashable
2.88 out of 5 (8 Clubie's ratings)

The Gentleman
The Gentleman
By Forrest Leo

 General reading guide discussion questions to be used with ANY book your book club or reading group might be discussing.

1. When Quinn wants to talk to her mother, she talks to her paintings. Does Nan ever talk back? Has Nan ever tried to communicate with Quinn through her paintings? What do they tell her? 


2. Quinn thrives on being needed: by her 6-year-old son, and previously by her emotionally unstable mother and her needy ex-boyfriend Eugene, whose dependence on Quinn was childlike in its totality. Nan tells her "If a man isn't desperately needy, my little caretaker, you have no use for him." Where does Lewis fit into this system? Does his independence and generosity make their marriage stronger? What does it mean that Quinn repeatedly chooses him? 


3. Why do you think Nan really told her daughter she was "destined to be with a man who was an emotional siphon"? What was she trying to achieve in telling Quinn this? Who are the other emotional siphons in Quinn's life?


4. Early on, Quinn accuses Lewis of wanting her to have a miscarriage, to which Lewis responds that he doesn't know what he wants. Quinn, folding her arms, tells him that he's "not being honest". A few days later she flat-out tells him "I don't want to have an abortion", and once again Lewis tries to deflect. Subsequently, Quinn gets upset when Lewis decides to talk to his mother, his sister, and their next-door neighbor about the situation, but not to her.

Is this a fair response? Is Quinn is being honest when she tells us the reason she's upset is not because of what Lewis is feeling, but rather "the thought that he could open up to everyone but her"? Is Quinn being completely honest with Lewis?


5. Later, Quinn specifically turns down Isaac's pleading that she read to him, choosing instead to attempt to slip through the portal to visit her mother. She remembers his words, I want mommy, and her response is "Me, too." 

Is this a question of who needs her more, or is this primarily about what Quinn needs?


6. Why does Quinn allow her meeting with Eugene at the party become intimate? Why does she kiss him? Does this seem out of character for her, or not? What role does Eugene play in Quinn's "other life?"


7. In one of Quinn's last conversations with her mother, Quinn says to Nan: "I want you to admit that it drives you crazy seeing me in a normal, stable relationship," referring to her decision to choose Lewis over Eugene. Nan responds with "I never said I didn't think you should. I said I didn't think you could." Later, Quinn is convinced her mother killed herself because Quinn married Lewis. 

Why would Nan kill herself because Quinn chose Lewis? Why is Nan still alive in the life where Quinn is still with Eugene?


8. How would you compare the choice Nan has to make in the prologue with Quinn's decision not to terminate her pregnancy?


9. Sitting in the doctor's office, Quinn remembers being asked, during her interview at Batson's Books, what her biggest regret was. "Quinn answered that she didn't believe in regrets, explaining that she always learned from her mistakes....Now, though, she had to ask herself whether she regretted leaving Eugene. Had she made a mistake? Was that the life she was supposed to have?" 

Which life would you have chosen, if you were Quinn? What pivotal choices have you made in your life, and how would your life be different if you'd made a different decision?


10. What do you think happens to Quinn, her baby daughter and the rest of her family? What does the closing of the portal in the basement mean for them?

Clubie Submitted Discussion Questions
Have a good question? If your a clubie add one now.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In Meister's inventive novel, Quinn Braverman is happily living in a Long Island suburb with her beloved husband, Lewis, and their son, Isaac. But in Quinn's basement is a portal to another life, a life in which Quinn didn't choose stable Lewis over her shock-jock boyfriend, Eugene. Quinn avoids the lure of the portal for years, until she becomes pregnant with her second child and learns that the child might be seriously disabled. Quinn escapes through the portal one day, only to find that her mother, Nan, who committed suicide soon after Quinn married Lewis, is alive and well in this other reality. Though Quinn can't fathom leaving her husband and child permanently, the pressure of her complicated pregnancy and the desire to find out why her mother killed herself drive her to keep returning to her other life, even though the portal keeps shrinking every time Quinn uses it. The innovative premise and Quinn's desire to understand her mother will resonate with readers. --Kristine Huntley
How can we make BookBundlz even better? Tell us what you think would make this website teh best for book clubs, reading groups and book lovers alike!
 Apple iTunes


Also, Don't Miss BB's
Author News Page!
Look for advice on everything from how to get your book published to promoted. We are looking to help you get the word out about your book!

Check out our...

of the Month