The Other Side of Life Blog Tour and Review

02_The Other Side of LifeThe Other Side of Life by Andy Kutler

Publication Date: August 11, 2015 
Neverland Publishing Company LLC 
Formats: Trade Paperback and Kindle
Pages: 360 
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review


 December 1941, Pearl Harbor. A peaceful Sunday morning turns into a devastating attack on American soil. Naval officer Malcolm "Mac" Kelsey is severely wounded while defending his ship. A flawed man abandoned long ago by his alcoholic wife, Kelsey has been mired in despair and hopelessness following the accidental death of Lucy, the young daughter he considers the only redemptive aspect of his life. Near the point of death, Kelsey is brought to what he believes to be an afterlife where he is offered an opportunity to shed his past memories and embark upon an alternate path in another place and time. Eager to escape his torment and begin a more tranquil existence, Kelsey accepts, only to feel quickly betrayed as he soon finds himself back in the midst of battle, this time as a Union soldier at the dawn of the Civil War.

Through Antietam, Gettysburg and four years of relentless fighting, Kelsey attempts to cast aside his painful past while trying to survive the horrors of combat. He crosses paths with compelling figures on both sides of the conflict determined to persevere and return to those they left behind. Idealistic Ethan Royston, promoted from the enlisted ranks, believes in preserving the Union but is plagued by insecurity and self-doubt. His closest friend, West Point-trained Cal Garrity, remains loyal to his home state of Virginia despite his misgivings about the virtue of the Southern cause. The war will divide these friends, just as it will divide Garrity from his adoring wife, Emily, the charismatic and headstrong daughter of a prominent Norfolk shipbuilder, forced to face the onset of war alone.

Each will endure unimaginable hardship and brutality that will forever reshape their core beliefs and values. Each will find their strength and resolve tested as they search for self-purpose, humanity, and reconciliation. Most of all, Mac Kelsey will discover the very essence of life and death, and whether the new beginning he has long coveted will bring him the inner peace he has so desperately sought.


“Employing some new twists on the novelist's technique of time travel, Andy Kutler sends a naval officer bombed at Pearl Harbor back to the Civil War. Among his comrades in a Union cavalry regiment he absorbs the enduring values of trust, loyalty, love, and selflessness during the chaos and tragedy of a war that took place a half century before he was born. Readers will find themselves immersed in this story and captivated by its principal characters.” -- James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winner author of Battle Cry of Freedom and The War That Forged a Nation

 “Profound, smart, and entertaining – the path through The Other Side of Life is an amazing journey through history.” -- Joe Weisberg, Creator and Executive Producer of FX’s The Americans and author of An Ordinary Spy

 "Andy Kutler's war scenes are gripping, his characters vulnerable and honest, and his story ultimately triumphant --- an exciting journey back into two levels of the past." -- David Hardin, author of Emblems of Woe: How the South Reacted to Lincoln's Murder

 “The Other Side of Life imaginatively mingles brutal scenes of Civil War battlefields with thought-provoking moral issues. It describes the conflicted loyalties and sufferings of that tragic era and the spiritual growth of the book’s hero—a naval officer wounded in the Pearl Harbor attack—and those he becomes close to when he is transported to the past. The swift moving, compelling narrative grips the reader from first page to last.” -- Bernard Weisberger, historian and author of America Afire: Adams, Jefferson, and the Revolutionary Election of 1800

 “Andy Kutler has written a thoughtfully imaginative adventure across time, approaching the Civil War from a fresh perspective while creating memorable, compelling characters. The story flows beautifully and is consistently challenging.” -- Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, Now and Then Reader (

My Take:
I agreed to review The Other Side of Life because I thought the premise was different than other time travel type novels and it caught my interest. I didn't know what to expect, and wasn't sure it would work, but I was happy to give it a chance. I am quite happy to be able to say that I really enjoyed the novel. I am still not exactly sure about the workings of the "other side", but I was completely drawn into Mac's story.

Mac Kelsey is a grieving man who may not be living up to his potential. He has some serious baggage. However, his path is abruptly stopped and he is given a choice. The choice is to forget his current life and all that has happened and be set on another path. This is a little vague and Kelsey isn't happy with the lack of information either. But it is sufficient for this review. His new path, however, puts him in the path of someone who has ties to his former life, which despite promises to the contrary, he still remembers. This at  least gives him a goal for the short term.

From this point, the reader is introduced to some very sympathetic and interesting characters like Cal and Emily Garrity and Ethan Royston. Their lives will become intertwined with Kelsey's and will be driving forces for the story line. The characters in the novel are well developed as are their relationships and story lines. 

The descriptions of the Civil War bring out the conflicts of conscience, divided loyalties, the brutality of war and the growth of the main characters. The scenes are very vivid and the story line is quite compelling. I this that The Other Side of Life will appeal to any reader of historical fiction who is interested in the Civil War or World War II to a lesser degree and those who just enjoy an exciting story. 



Andy Kutler is a writer living in Arlington, Virginia. A native of Madison, Wisconsin and a graduate of Michigan State University (B.A.) and Georgetown University (M.A.), he has previously worked on the senior legislative staff of two United States Senators before serving as a senior policy officer with the U.S. Secret Service. He is working today as a consultant to the national security community. While Andy’s writings have appeared in The Huffington Post and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Other Side of Life is his first novel. Andy's interests include travel, military history, his Wisconsin sports teams, and most importantly, spending time with his wife and two children. For more information and news please visit Andy Kutler's Facebook page.


Monday, September 8
Spotlight & Giveaway at Unshelfish

Sunday, September 14
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Monday, September 15
Review at Dianne Ascroft's Blog

Friday, September 19
Spotlight at What Is That Book About

Friday, September 26
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Monday, October 6
Review at A Book Geek

Monday, October 13
Review at Book Nerd

Monday, October 20
Review at Just One More Chapter

Saturday, November 1
Review at Genre Queen

Monday, November 10
Review at Beth's Book Nook Blog

Wednesday, November 12
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews

Thursday, November 13
Blog Tour Wrap-Up at Passages to the Past

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