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Alternate Endings

N.E. Lasater / Alternate Endings
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Readers’ Favorite Review

Alternate Endings by N.E. Lasater is a fiction novel set around an average woman’s life. The beauty of Alternate Endings lies in the fact that, although it is the story of an ordinary woman set in contemporary times, it is at the same time the story of women from time immemorial who, when faced with choices, are conditioned to put others first. Alternate Endings starts off with an introduction to Calyce, a woman trying to juggle life with multiple responsibilities. We also meet Catherine in bits and pieces throughout the book, who is a woman in similar circumstances in life. Both of these women have elderly mothers who need to be cared for and are their responsibility in a certain sense. At the same time, we also learn about Calyce’s son who is in need of support from her too. How Calyce and Catherine cope with their lives with the daily round of chores, responsibilities, caring for others, and how and if they make time for themselves form the plot of the novel.

Alternate Endings is a very thought-provoking book. The idea of women being meant to exist first and foremost to nurture and take care of others is the state of society throughout the world even today. This is true, even in the most socially so-called progressive or developed nations of the world. It is almost unthinkable to think of a woman pursuing her own dreams and ambitions unapologetically and without judgement from others in the same way men have enjoyed this privilege. Women who follow their own off-beat path are still condemned and judged, unlike men. Calyce’s life path and decisions show women that it is their right to live life as they see fit and, hopefully, a book like this helps to create awareness in society to be non-judgmental. Good writing and a great plot make this a very worthwhile read.— Readers’ Favorite (5-STAR Review) 

A loving woman caught in the sandwich generation must choose between her elderly mother and her young adult son.  Each has needs only she can fulfill, but to meet them she must sacrifice herself – again.  Who does she choose? And why doesn’t she ever get a turn without being “selfish”?

So many of us are squeezed in this way, in a world where women are taught to endlessly serve.

Based on Greek mythology, this story about Calyce Tate has a surprise ending that shouldn’t surprise, but does.

BlueInk Review
N.E. Lasater’s insightful novel Alternate Endings revolves around a middle-aged woman facing personal and professional challenges.
Calyce Tate, divorced and in her 50s, struggles with meeting family demands while working as a high school English teacher in Washington, D.C. At home, she cleans up for her adult son whom she still subsidizes and allows to live with her. Lacking supportive siblings, she alone tends to her aging mother, who moves in despite their strained relationship. At work, she insists on the primacy of grammar over content in her student’s writing, to the consternation of her class and colleagues.
This strict adherence to rules echoes her own discipline of putting others’ needs first. Although she once dreamed of becoming a writer, she now finds that daily life has vanquished her creativity and concedes, “Grammar I know but imagination eludes me.” When her promotion to department chair appears stymied, she reaches a point amidst increasing demands from her son and mother that tests her limits.
Lasater writes observantly (“1974 fluorescent kitchens whose arched-faced cabinets held crock-pots they still used”) and peppers the text with literary allusions that enrich the story. “There’s no book where I’m the female Odysseus,” Calyce laments. Calyce’s own name references Greek mythology, as Lasater later explains. Although generous in spirit, Calyce is flawed by her own hubris, which makes her more relatable; she’s every woman, not an immortal hero.
Lasater underscores this point by cleverly interspersing a parallel story throughout the book whose protagonist confronts similar dilemmas. As the central plot builds to an exciting climax, this structural device adds another dimension to the narrative and encourages reflection on societal norms and one’s own life choices.
Of particular interest to women, Alternate Endings will appeal to fans of literary fiction and resonate with those familiar with issues facing the “Sandwich Generation.” Such readers will savor this ambitious, highly engaging account of a strong older woman on a journey of self- discovery and empowerment. — BlueInk Review (STARRED Review)
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