Book Review: The Other Life by Ellen Meister

The Other Life by Ellen Meister

Because it’s Magical March this month, I decided to pick this book from my TBR. It’s about a woman who can go through a portal to go to another life, a life that she would have had had if she’d  made different choices in her earlier life.

I love books about alternate realities but this book had a few problems, for me at least, to make me stop from loving it. It was a nice read, though.

The Other Life: What it is about

Quinn Braverman is married to Lewis and they have a 6-year old son, Isaac. Quinn has always known there is a portal in the basement of her house, from which she can visit another life, the one she didn’t choose. That other life is one in which she stayed with her boyfriend Eugene, living a fast life with famous people and definitely no children.

In her “real” life she’s happy, until she becomes pregnant with her second child and there are complications. Now she wants her mother, but her mother, a bi-polar sufferer, committed suicide years ago and never even knew Isaac. In the other life, her mother is still alive…

The baby she is expecting turns out to have a severe problem. The baby may not live through the pregnancy and if she does, she is likely to be disabled and will need a lot of care. Quinn and Lewis need to decide whether to stick with the pregnancy or not. At the same time, Quinn is reconsidering her other life, the more easy-going life in which her mother is still there. After some more visits to the other life, Quinn has to make a decision about which life she wants to lead.

The Other Life: What I thought

An nice and easy read, fluently written. The story of Quinn and Lewis finding out about the baby and worrying about what to do was interesting, but as the decision would be a no-brainer for me (from my comfy chair, not being in that situation), I couldn’t really feel close to them.

Quinn has a gay brother, Hayden, and he has some relationship problems and that was fun to read about too. Quinn herself was a woman with whom I did not identify and that was one of the problems I had with the book. She stayed a stranger for me, through the whole book, even when I knew quite intimate things about her.

Another problem was the portal. There is a extra portal later, when Quinn makes her decision, and it seems that for any big life choice she makes, a new portal is added with the alternative life that she didn’t choose. But that wasn’t technical enough for me: I could not believe in these portals.

This is mainly because of the “butterfly effect“, which says that even a very small change in the current situation can have a large impact in the long run. So, at any point in life there should be a portal to an alternate life, because even e.g., deciding to drink tea rather than coffee could have an effect on her life in the future (it probably won’t but it could). So for me, to say that you would (only) get an alternate life at main choice points in your life didn’t really make sense.

But the book was fun enough to read if I didn’t think too hard about the alternate lives and the decision she has to make regarding her baby.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

I got this book: won it in a game on Shelfari

Number of pages: 312

First published: 2011

Genre: contemporary fiction

Extra: I read this for the Magical March Challenge by Roof Beam Reader

Extra: Another book about alternate life (but more about re-doing part of your life) is The Summer House by Jude Deveraux

Magical March Challenge


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

11 Responses to Book Review: The Other Life by Ellen Meister

  1. I totally agree about what you say about there being portals to alternative lives with every decision we make. But all these small decisions wouldn’t probably have a dramatic or big influence, as major decisions tend to have.
    It is a pity you could’t relate to the main character, though, Judith. For me that is often enough a reason for not liking a book.

    • Leeswammes says:

      I did like the story, sort of, Nadine so that helped.

      I agree to some extend with you, but I’m sure that a small decision (like sitting in a certain seat in the theatre, next to someone you don’t know * yet*) might have a bigger impact on your life than breaking up with a boyfriend. It just depends… 🙂

      • Yes, I see what you mean… But luckily not all of our decisions have great impact on our life. We wouldn’t dare to decide anything anymore, at least, I wouldn’t.

  2. parrish lantern says:

    This sounds like wish fulfillment as a novel, hopefully it’s better than that

  3. Hm. This one sounds like an unlucky mix of supernatural fun and huge, ethical decisions. I am not sure I would enjoy it very much either.

  4. Wendy says:

    I like the sound of these three books. It’s interesting how books can let you down even though the premise of the book sounds like you would love it. And it’s usually easy, in those cases, to say what is wrong with them. There are a couple of books I think I could have written better, just by changing a character or two, or the way they interact. xx

  5. Leslie says:

    As someone who reads a lot of science fiction, I couldn’t believe in the portals either. I looked at this book as more of a story about relationships and forgiveness with the alternate universe as a way to tell the story. It was very readable for me too and for that I enjoyed it.

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