Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book Review: The Other Life

By Melissa Amster

Imagine being able to choose between two different lifestyles, based on one decision. However, if you were forced to choose between one life or the other, which would you pick? Quinn has this special power, but also has to make a huge decision about it in "The Other Life" by Ellen Meister.

Quinn Braverman discovers a portal between the life she chose and the road not taken. She's a suburban housewife and mother with another baby on the way. In her other life, she's living with her previous boyfriend and hoping he won't pop the question. And then there's the matter of her mother still existing in that other life, as she killed herself in Quinn's reality. When Quinn is faced with devastating news, she starts to explore her options between her two lives until the portal starts to shrink, forcing her to choose one or the other. Will she make the right decision?

I had heard many good things about "The Other Life" and the concept reminded me of a cross between "Sliding Doors" and an Allison Winn Scotch novel. I just knew I had to read it and bought myself a copy. I am pleased with my choice to purchase it, as I was grabbed from the first page and still haven't been let go! It is such a compelling story, impossible to put down. It does have a feel similar to the movie and books mentioned above. It also reminds me of "The Time Traveler's Wife," another favorite of mine. I love books that explore surreal situations while also discussing real situations and emotions throughout. "The Other Life" definitely fits into that category. The characters felt so real and accessible, all of them being extremely interesting in their own ways. I especially loved her gay brother, Hayden and her sex-crazed neighbor, Georgette. I also liked the way she explored Quinn's relationship with her mother. The story was beautifully written, heartbreaking and suspenseful. I knew by the time I was halfway through that I would have to recommend it to anyone who wants a really good, thought-provoking story.

While I don't really have any criticisms, I will say that I wish it didn't end before letting us know where one of the situations was going. It made me want a sequel. However, I do want to warn pregnant women not to read this book until after they've given birth and gotten through the first few emotional months. If I had read it at this time last year (in my eighth month of pregnancy at the time), there's no way I would have been able to continue after the first few chapters. There are some sensitive subjects surrounding Quinn's pregnancy and they might scare a mom-to-be.

Overall, I think "The Other Life" really does a great job of exploring "what-if's" and would make a great discussion topic for book clubs. It's definitely a story that will stick with me for a long time. I also think it would make an amazing movie and that a lot could be done with it in order to bring the story to life on the big screen.

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