By Kristy McGinnis
In ELLIPSIS, Kristy McGinnis crafts the three-part tale of a woman who faces life’s unexpected twists and turns. Part One begins with the whole world laid out in front of Nell, a spirited college student who makes extra cash modeling for art classes and has big plans for a future law career. A passionate affair with Narek, a brooding Armenian painter, derails those plans and leaves Nell raising a baby on her own, obliging her to create a new life plan centered around baby Charlie. When a devastating tragedy takes away Nell’s son in Part Two, her grief permeates every page. The discovery that another child needs her help drives the story into Part Three, where Nell tentatively finds new forms of purpose and happiness in her life.
McGinnis skillfully weaves moments of reflection into Part One that don’t reveal too much of the plot but make it clear Nell is meditating on the past, where memories have been colored by future bitterness or grief. The gravity of Nell’s mourning is captured in an expansive tapestry of rich, emotional moments that run from numb to seething to frenzied to devastated. While Nell is the heart of the story, several other characters portray the many shapes grief can take: Nell’s mother looks for distraction by chattering about minutiae and putting together a garishly overblown Christmas celebration; another woman who lost a child wears makeup and heels like armor while fighting for gun prevention laws; a reclusive elderly artist hides from his own family but paints moving portraits of lost children for other grieving parents.
Although it is largely a book about grief, ELLIPSIS also contains elements of a love story, mystery, and fictionalized memoir. McGinnis’ intentional and eloquent storytelling imbues every sentence with meaning, creating a captivating short novel that is hard to put down. Nell is an exquisite narrator, bringing levity to her darkest moments as well as pensiveness to her brighter days. McGinnis shines by allowing Nell’s voice to evolve, from a girl who possesses the easy confidence that comes with youthful beauty to a woman whose quieter self-assurance lies in the knowledge that she’s survived going to hell and back.
McGinnis touches on a range of tough subjects—single motherhood, school violence, child abuse, suicide, and gun control—without becoming preachy or turning senseless tragedy into a life lesson. She empathetically acknowledges the messiness of life and factors that may lead people to hurt others without excusing the deep pain they leave behind. There is a steely tenderness to the book, a focus on finding community and purpose amidst tragedy, that makes it an enthralling read.
Kristy McGinnis’ novel ELLIPSIS is in turns touching, suspenseful, and reflective as it moves through the highs and lows of a young woman’s unexpected journey into motherhood.
~Cameron Gillespie for IndieReader
By Kristy McGinnis
Written with a quick pace and distinctive storyline, ELLIPSIS by Kristy McGinnis is about grief, love, loss, anger, and faith–a range of emotions for a mother who loses her 13-year-old son in a school shooting. Fear is an underlying truth for parents in today’s society and readers may empathize with Nell in her struggle to help herself, as well as a young person in desperate need.