The Other Year
By: Rea Frey
Narrator: Brittany Pressley
Pub Date: 08/15/2023
My Rating: 5 Stars + (ARC)
In parallel timelines, mother Kate Baker lives a life where her 9-year-old daughter drowns and another life in which she survives. Can the entire course of our lives be traced back to a single moment?
On a coveted two-week beach vacation, working mom Kate Baker’s nine-year-old daughter, Olivia, vanishes suddenly among the waves—a heart-dropping single moment that threatens to uproot her entire life. But in the next moment, Olivia resurfaces, joyously splashing.
What would I do if she didn’t come up? Kate wonders. How would I live without her?
In another set of circumstances that hold a different fate, Kate doesn’t have to wonder. Because in that “other” world, in the pulse-pounding seconds after Olivia goes under, she doesn’t come back up.
Told in parallel timelines, one in which Olivia lives and one in which she doesn’t, readers experience Kate's life over the course of a year. In the reality that follows her daughter’s death, she maneuvers through every mother’s worst nightmare, from the deepest throes of grief and rage to the unfathomable question of purpose in the aftermath of such profound loss. She endures, day by day, in a world without her daughter.
In the opposite timeline, while she explores a tremulous romance with her best friend, Jason, she finds herself facing a bitter custody battle with the ex-husband who abandoned Kate and Olivia years prior. Even as Kate scrambles to hold her daughter close, Olivia pulls further away. Kate feels losing custody of her daughter is the worst thing imaginable—but of course, there are different kinds of loss when it comes to the ones we love.
Woven into a single story, both Kates discover a breathtaking finality to their respective journeys. Bringing to light drastic polarities dire circumstances often create, The Other Year also unveils astonishing truths about loss and time. Told with unflinching authority that will force every reader out of their comfort zone, Kate’s stories examine the sharp turns any life can take “in the blink of an eye”—ultimately issuing a challenge to live with eyes wide open.
About the Author
Rea Frey is the award-winning, bestselling author of several nonfiction books and four domestic suspense novels, Not Her Daughter, Because You're Mine, Until I Find You, and Secrets of Our House. As a Book Doula, Rea helps other writers birth their own stories into the world. She has two upcoming releases, The Other Year (women's fiction/magical realism) and Don't Forget Me (thriller Jan 9, 2024). To learn more, visit reafrey.com.
People call me The Book Doula. Why? I've birthed 11 books and guided hundreds of first-time authors toward their dreams of becoming published authors too. If you’re ready to birth your next great idea, then let’s chat.
As an award-winning, traditionally published author of four nonfiction books and four bestselling novels, I know how impossible it seems to get your work out there. (Trust me, I’ve struggled, made tons of mistakes, and learned invaluable lessons along the way.)
Here’s the truth: Writing isn’t just a craft; it’s a business. Once I understood that my book is a product to sell, everything clicked.
Now I love sharing my experience both as an author and a book doula, so I can help other women get their work into the world too.
Connect with the Author
Q&A Elevator Ride with
award-winning author Rea Frey
"Behind the Book & the Author"
Exceptional Authors. Standout Books. Elevator Talk.
INTRIGUING QUESTIONS. INQUIRING READERS WANT TO KNOW
Behind The Book
Rea, welcome back for the third #AuthorElevatorSeries Q&A. It is always a joy hosting you! Oh, how I loved this book.
Q. Before we get into your new book, let’s talk about your new website and your new name, the Book Doula! I love this! How creative. Since we have both readers and authors here today, please share more about this new endeavor.
REA: As I’ve been an author for a while, it’s clear I love to write. However, I also love sharing what I learn about publishing with others because it can be such a tricky space to navigate. This “sharing” organically grew into a business, Writeway, but I found I was literally swamped with client work and rarely got to work on my own books. A few months ago, I decided to dissolve my business and bring everything under my own name as an author and book doula. Now, I help others birth their books into the world with services that rely more on coaching versus execution. This allows me to step out from behind-the-scenes and step forward a little more as an author, which has always been my dream.
Q. DESCRIBE your novel in three words or less.
REA: GRAB. THE. KLEENEX.
Q. INSPIRATION: The spark that ignited the novel? Where were you when the idea came to you? Blue Mountain Beach, Ft. Walton, FL and Serenbe Georgia.
REA: This is one of those books that came to me in a single moment. Every year, my hubby and I take our daughter, Sophie, to Blue Mountain Beach, a tradition that started with my parents when I was a kid. Several years ago, it was our first day there, and she was so excited, she ran straight from the car to the beach and jumped in, even though it was a red flag. I was watching her on the beach and had this heart-stopping moment where I wondered: What in the world would I do if she just… disappeared? The book came to me in a flash: an idea about this only mother raising a daughter who lives out two different worlds: one in which life is status quo and one in which the worst thing that can happen to you as a parent happens. What do you do next? How do you live?
SERENBE: Rea, I was blown away when I saw Serenbe and Serenbe Farms in your novel, then to find out you visited there, and your inspiration for the book! This made the book! I cannot tell you how giddy I was. Oh, my, I LOVE Serenbe! I cannot wait to return! An Atlanta gal for most of my career before moving to S. Florida, I am very familiar with this slice of heaven! I wish I could attend your event there. Readers, check out Rea’s video on IG about her inspiration and the Serenbe website and Serenbe Farms! A wellness community connected to nature on the outskirts of Atlanta. Serenbe is a neighborhood within the city limits of Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia and an example of New Urbanism.
Q. OK, lady, we are dying to know all about this! DO TELL. Please SHARE more about this fabulous experience.
REA: As you stated, Serenbe is a completely special place for so many reasons. We first stumbled upon it during the pandemic, after a friend called me and said, “Okay, pack your bags. I’ve found utopia.” When I first visited, it really did feel like a movie set. Everything was so lovely, so perfect, that my dark brain immediately wondered how many bodies were buried in these pristine backyards.
My husband, daughter, and I began visiting regularly and then we got wind of this Serenbe Farms internship. We drove up, met the farmer (who is ACTUALLY named Ian, just like the farmer in the book, though they are wildly different people) and truly considered uprooting our lives to live in Serenbe and just work on a farm. But the cabin I write about in the book was the actual cabin we were introduced to: It was not “livable” for three people, so we decided to pass. But I couldn’t let go of this setting for a book, and when the plot for The Other Year came to me, I knew it would be a perfect place for Kate.
Q. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: What fabulous characters! Your favorite character to write, and/or most challenging?
REA: Kate was the most difficult because I am a mother, but I have not lost my daughter. However, it was all too easy to put myself in her shoes and live out some of my worst fears through her. I think all parents fear losing their children, and yet it happens every day. Though not an easy topic to dive into, I felt it was important to write about, because so many mothers lose their daughters.
Q. GUYS: We have three totally different guys in the novel. Which was your favorite guy in the book for Kate (or to write): Ex-husband- Michael, best friend- Jason, or new farm guy- Ian?
REA: Jason, all the way. He’s my dream guy friend.
Q. MOTHER DAUGHTER: Kate/Olivia main characters. You seem to be a pro at writing mother/daughter stories as in this one and past books. I know you have a daughter too. What draws you to these relationships?
REA: I have an author’s note in the beginning of The Other Year that reveals how much I struggled with becoming a mother. It’s something I never thought I’d be very good at, and when I had my daughter, I realized what an awesome responsibility it actually is. I use these books to work out a lot of my own biggest fears on the page, and at the end of the day, this book is a love letter to my daughter. I used a lot of her little quirks to develop Olivia’s character. I hope my daughter reads it someday.
Q. TAKEAWAY: What important message, theme, or takeaway would you like readers to be left with when reading your book?
REA: Love your people, because you never know when they’ll be gone.
Q. UPCOMING: Congratulations on your upcoming thriller, Don't Forget Me coming Jan 9, 2024, with Thomas & Mercer and available for pre-order now. Please share with us more about your upcoming new thriller.
REA: This book was so wildly fun to write! Don’t Forget Me is about a recently separated woman, Ruby Knight, who is out rowing on a manmade lake when a body surfaces. As the investigation gets underway, everyone in her neighborhood seems to think the John Doe is Ruby’s missing husband, Tom. Except that Ruby claims she’s never seen this man in her entire life.
Thank you, Rea.
Now for more up close and personal
with this exciting author below.
Behind the Author
FAVORITE THING ABOUT WHERE YOU RESIDE?
Though I never thought I would move back to my home state, I love the rolling hills and valleys that compose Tennessee. I can always find something to do in nature.
FAVORITE MAKEUP/HAIR TIP
If you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin! Since our skin is our largest organ and “drinks” in anything we put on it, I make sure to only put ingredients on my hair or skin that I know to be healthy. I use apple cider rinses and let my hair air dry, only moisturize with coconut oil, drink a ton of water, and get as much sunshine as possible, which, contrary to popular belief, is so good for us.
I love mornings!
Both, but I love dogs more
YOUR FAVORITE LIFE LESSON QUOTE?
The only thing you can control in life is how you feel.
YOUR FAVORITE PLACE TO WRITE?
I have a tiny home that I bought during the pandemic in an effort not to murder my entire family. I filled it with all of my favorite books, crystal, oracle decks, and things that mean a lot to me. On January 1, I left a candle burning, and my entire studio burned. I was devastated. However, my amazing hubby rebuilt it and now I love it even more than before.
A CHARACTER YOU HAVE WRITTEN THAT IS YOUR FAVORITE AND WHY?
I will always love Sarah Walker from Not Her Daughter for rescuing five-year-old Emma from her abusive mother. Even though she did a “bad thing,” she did it for the right reasons. I’ve always admired the courage that would take to risk it all to save a child.
NAME A BOOK TITLE ON YOUR BOOKSHELF OR NIGHTSTAND THAT WOULD SURPRISE YOUR READERS.
IF YOU COULD ELIMINATE ONE THING FROM YOUR DAILY LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
WHAT WOULD YOUR DAUGHTER (OR SON) SAY ABOUT YOU BEING AN AUTHOR, IF ASKED?
I’ll let my daughter type this one: Hello! I am Rea’s daughter, Sophie. Mama is a wonderful writer, she describes things really well, AND she’s helping me with my book, Tails (pun intended) of Cleopawtra. DON’T TELL ANYBODY THOUGH!!!!
A FAVORITE INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE?
Novelette! It is an LGQTBIA+ friendly store, and I love their quirky, thoughtful selection of books.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR DAUGHTER?
Love yourself the most… but first, understand what true self-love even is. It doesn’t come from a boy or friend. It doesn’t come from society. It doesn’t come from feeling pretty or smart. It comes from within.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT YOUR READERS MAY NOT KNOW.
I had brain surgery at 19 and have four titanium plates and 16 screws on the left parietal lobe of my brain. Yes, I am part bionic.
WHAT ARE YOU ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT?
Circadian rhythm work, breathwork, movement, homeschooling, doing things different, thinking deeper, not being a robot in a world that is trying to keep us numb.
IF YOU COULD CURE ONE DISEASE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Addictions to Smartphones that are causing all sorts of diseases, specifically suicide, isolation, and loneliness.
ONE BIT OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE AN INSPIRING AUTHOR?
Learn everything you can about this business before you ever try to get published. It will make your life so much easier!
IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF SOME WISE ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Never stop playing. Have more fun. Don’t take it all so seriously. Love as many people as you can.
ONE THING YOU HAVE LEARNED SINCE YOUR DEBUT NOVEL?
I get to decide what success looks like… nobody else.
AN ITEM ON YOUR BUCKET LIST?
Ride an elephant
WHAT ARE YOU FREAKISHLY BAD AT?
YOUR BIGGEST CHEERLEADER?
IF YOU WERE NOT A WRITER, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR IDEAL CAREER?
THE FUNNIEST ONE STAR REVIEW YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED AND NAME OF THE BOOK?
I once received a one-star review for my debut novel, Not Her Daughter, because I had a character eating grits in a location where they weren’t readily available!
IF YOU COULD HAVE A TV SERIES OR MOVIE ADAPTED BASED ON ONE OF YOUR BOOKS, WHICH ONE WOULD IT BE?
Not Her Daughter!
Thank you, Rea, for spending time with us today!
". . . impossible to put down." —Publishers Weekly
"Intriguing, thought-provoking. . . Rea Frey breathes life into universal themes concerning love, family, parenthood, forgiveness, grief, and second chances."
—New York Journal of Books
"Tenderly observed and heartfelt. Raw and emotional. The Other Year is sure to strike a chord with readers everywhere."
—Josie Silver, New York Times bestselling author
“In this world-altering women's fiction novel, single mother Kate Baker looks away for a single moment, only to lose sight of her daughter in the ocean. As a result, her world splits into two separate realities: one where she gets to keep being a mother and the other where she doesn't. The message is clear: Love your people. A tear-jerker with heart.” —Brenda Novak, New York Times bestselling author
The reigning queen of mother/child stories, domestic suspense, and Book Doula, author Rea Frey (favorite) returns following The Secrets of Our House, Until I Find You, Because You're Mine, and Not Her Daughter, with THE OTHER YEAR —when a single moment changes the course of a mother's life told from two parallel timelines in this gripping thought-provoking tale proposing —how a single choice can drastically alter the trajectory of our lives.
What can happen in the blink of an eye will change your life.
Single mom Kate Baker is on a much-needed two-week vacation with her nine-year-old daughter, Olivia, at the beach. In a split second, Olivia disappears among the waves. Kate is devastated and is frantically searching for her daughter in the ocean. How will she live without her daughter?
However, she resurfaces, and Kate can breathe again. However, what if she had yet to come up? How could Kate live without her?
There are two worlds with two different outcomes: one where Olivia dies and one where she lives.
The author masterfully tells the story in two parallel timelines where Kate lives out each scenario. What would her life be like? She would be wracked with guilt, grief, and sadness if she lost her. She would cherish every moment of life and never take time for granted if she were alive and well.
In the alternate timeline, she has some choices with three different men. Ex-husband- Michael, best friend- Jason, or new farm guy- Ian, with a troubled past. Which man will she choose?
A beautiful, poignant, emotional story, classic Rea, she pulls grips the reader immediately and holds you until the satisfying conclusion!
A massive fan of the author, having read all her books, I adored THE OTHER LIFE. Highly creative, this story makes you think about time, actions, consequences, and how your life can change quickly. This heart-stirring account will make you appreciate your loved ones, cherish your time with them, and want to live life to the fullest.
SERENBE: I also loved this story for other reasons, as well. The beach is based in Florida, and the BEST: The Serenbe Farms setting is a place I have visited and loved in South Georgia (outside of Atlanta). The B&B is heavenly. I highly recommend—a rare treat!
An Atlanta gal for many years before South Florida. If you have not visited there, please do so. It is amazing! I was delighted when I saw this in the book, and Rea does a great job portraying the community. Serenbe is a wellness community connected to nature on the outskirts of Atlanta—a neighborhood within the city limits of Chattahoochee Hills, Georgia, and an example of New Urbanism.
INTERVIEW: These spots she visited are the inspiration for the book. Rea goes into more detail about the settings in my upcoming #AuthorEleavtorSeries Q&A with Rea, where we go behind the book and the author!
A stunning portrayal of motherhood in all its beauty and heart-wrenching despair. Captivating. Absorbing. Compelling. Thought-provoking! With well written-characters infused with emotion, have some tissues handy. A provocative story of a mother's love—from love, loss, grief, forgiveness, and second chances.
For fans of Jodi Picoult, Diane Chamberlain, Sally Hepworth, and upcoming Kit Frick's The Split: A Novel (Feb 13, 2024). Also, movie fans of Sliding Doors.
Stay tuned for Rea Frey's upcoming thriller, Don't Forget Me, coming Jan 9, 2024!
Thanks to HarperMuse for a gifted ARC via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. I also look forward to the audiobook narrated by a favorite, Brittany Pressley!
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
My Rating: 5 Stars
Pub Date: Aug 15, 2023