Genre: Women’s Fiction; Literary Fiction
Publication date: February 5, 2021
Smart, determined and beautiful; college student and art model Nell seemed to be the girl who had it all. When unplanned pregnancy threatens to derail everything, she fears life is over. Instead, she discovers motherhood to be her new calling. For thirteen years she and her son Charlie are a unit and her world is complete. Everything changes when violence erupts at Charlie’s school. As she reaches out via text in desperation, only the words and the animated ellipsis on the phone screen offer a buffer between life and death. Can she save the person on the other end of the messages in time, and in the process can she save herself too?
I would like to say I was suddenly filled with an indescribable joy and that I tenderly rubbed my still flat belly and imagined the baby within. I’d like to say that I handled it gracefully and celebrated the moment with a prayer of gratitude. I’d like to say that I felt even a hint of happiness. I’d like to say that my first instinct wasn’t a panicked, “How do I get rid of it?”
I actuality, escape was all I could think of.Chapter Two
This is a story of love and loss, of a flame smothered too soon. Life is never what you expect it to be, even if you’ve got The Plan to follow. But Nell is able to make the most of everything life throws at her. She might not have expected to get pregnant while following her dreams, but she doesn’t let that stop her from living her life. Sure her goals might have changed. But Nell is strong enough to change along with them.
McGinnis did an amazing job at making the characters in these pages feel real. Nell’s love and loss, her desires and fears, practically jump off the page. I got emotional with her and felt as if my own heart was breaking with everything she had to go through.
When Nell’s world comes crashing down around her, she almost lets it overtake her. But one text is enough to change her life once again – to give her the drive to keep going. Grief affects everyone differently and it takes a lot of strength – whether your own or the strength of those around you – to push through it.
While I might have experienced heartbreak while reading this story, I still find myself lucky to have experienced the joys along with Nell. If you’re looking for a fun, upbeat story then this isn’t the story you should pick up. However, if you’re looking for a hard hitting, emotional read, this could be just the book you’re looking for.
When I thought about how we saved each other, Callie and I, I felt Charlie’s fingerprints all over it. If that was possible, then I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe the deity I’d so consciously avoided most of my life had more than a passing interest in me. Six months had not healed my broken heart or my yearning soul, but it had given me a purpose and a reason to keep living.Chapter 28
There are so many important things that this story hits on. It hits on loss and violence and losing one’s self. It hits on the highs and the lows of life. It hits on moving on from your past – your past mistakes, sure, but also who you were and who you thought you’d become. It touches on learning to be comfortable in your own skin and living with the hand you’ve been dealt.
Charlie’s life was both tragic and too short. It’s always hard when a young life gets snatched away. While I’ve never lived in America, gun violence seems all too prevalent there – especially in schools. I can’t imagine going to school every day and having to worry about getting shot. Of worrying when or how the gun will make it in.
Nell’s life was also tragic. Maybe even more so as she had to continue to survive after her world imploded time and time again. Sure a messy breakup doesn’t seem like the end of the world, but it can feel like it at times. And having to give up on your dreams to make your new reality work is no easy feet, either.
Now, I want it noted that I’m not negating Charlie’s tragic end. It truly is a heart breaking way for anyone to die, let alone a young, bright, and promising child. But his short life had been filled with so many adventures and love. His life itself wasn’t tragic, only the way it ended so young and abruptly. At least he didn’t have to suffer.
I can’t imagine trying to survive what Nell went through. The death of a child, the center of her own little world. It’s heartbreaking and no wonder she lost the will to live for a while.
Nell’s human, she has flaws. She struggles to do the right thing, to not give up, to keep living. But she’s able to find the strength to continue on and, in the process, even ends up stopping another tragedy from occurring.
It’s been a while since I’ve read this book, so the smaller details of the story aren’t as fresh in my mind. Even still, I can remember the impactful feelings that the book pulled from me. I’d like to say that I read the book silently and kept my reactions to myself. But I can’t.
This book wrecked me when I read it. I’d gasp when Nell did something stupid – like try to end her own life. I’d cry when Charlie’s past was brought up. I’d wince when someone commented on how beat up Nell looked, how she was letting herself go, how she needed to move on. I raged when that dumbass Narek admitted he was going to focus on his new family, to make sure that he was a part of his surviving child’s life and didn’t make the same mistakes.
Where were you with Charlie? Why did he have to suffer for you to understand what a douche you were being?
Is this the type of book I usually pick up? No, not really. Is the cover gorgeous and the reason I read the synopsis in the first place? Yes, absolutely. Am I thrilled I gave the book a change, even though it wrecked me emotionally? A million times yes.