Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Other Life by Ellen Meister

Funny and talented writer Ellen Meister's new book The Other Life is now available!

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.

I've already read it, and I LOVED this book. It's a poignant story about choices, regret, hope, love, and family, and Ellen manages to do the near impossible. She lets the readers have their cake and eat it, too, because this book has a powerful, page-turning plot that's full of twists and turns, excitement and heartbreak, and even some laughs and entertainment, which is what makes it so commercially appealing. But it's not all fluff and frosting. It's written deftly, with a keen eye for detail and a wonderful use of all the symbolic, metaphoric, and subtle tricks in a literary fiction writer's arsenal that elevate it and give it depth and weight. It's just the best of both worlds.

One of my main complaints with a lot of modern literary fiction is that it's not much more than a bunch of ennui the main character "suffers" through. In "The Other Life," Meister's Quinn is an expectant mother who gets the most devastating news possible -- her child isn't well. This isn't drama that propels this story. It's actual serious problems. Quinn is a wonderful character that you'll care deeply about, while also falling in love with the rest of her family.

At one point in the story, Quinn's mother, an artist, has a heated discussion with her mother in law about why cultural experiences are important. Quinn's mom ends up simply stating, "Because it's art." And that is, happily, what this book is. A work of art.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

Love you ... and every word of this review!!! Thanks, Susan. xo