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A stunning debut novel that examines the price of loyalty, the burden of regret, the meaning of salvation, and the sacrifices we make for those we love, told in the voices of two unforgettable women linked by a decades-old family mystery at a picturesque lake house.
In 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys the family—her father commits suicide, and her mother and two older sisters spend the rest of their lives at the lake house, keeping a decades-long vigil for the lost child.
Sixty years later, Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before her death, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person who might care: her grandniece, Justine. For Justine, the lake house offers freedom and stability—a way to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the home she never had. But the long Minnesota winter is just beginning. The house is cold and dilapidated. The dark, silent lake is isolated and eerie. Her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more about the summer of 1935 than he’s telling.
Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives to steal her inheritance, and the man she left launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house haunted by the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.
What a stunning debut by Heather Young! Before I even start, I have to say that my mind is still reeling from that phenomenal twist. I should have expected it, but I was so wrapped up in the story that I never saw it coming. Heather Young’s writing drew me in by page 3, and I had no doubt this was going to be a good read.
The second night of reading, I stayed up late – I could not stop! – (yes, I paid for it the next day). I dreamt about the book, and I woke up thinking about the book. The Lost Girls is a book that will stay with me for a long time.
It’s touches on the historical side (1935), while keeping the pace with the current time, which happens to be 1999. Each chapter alternates between Lucy (1935), and Justine (1999). They are separated by generations, but are connected in ways they never knew.
I do think the book flowed at a steady pace, but by a little more than halfway through, I was wondering where the fuss was. *You know how usually at about 55-65%, the start of the climax is working its way to the top? Well, in The Lost Girls, it wasn’t. I kept wondering where all this was going…* At about 80% though, I started to piece things together, and them bam. The plot twist ensued, and it knocked me off my feet! I said in the beginning that I should have seen it coming. I truly should have. But I didn’t. Young’s diction captivated me, and there was no stopping. I wanted more. I needed more.
The motif of The Lost Girls is charmingly hidden as the two perspectives unfold. Young presents it in a way that can be noticed, yet if you’re not looking, you’d miss it. Between Lilith, Lucy, Maurie, Justine, Melanie, Angela, and Emily, each of these female characters represent this motif in a certain way. The story is not complete without all of them.
While Lilith, Lucy, and Justine were the three characters who stuck out and the most complex, the secondary characters were just as developed. There was no lack-of in the characters. There was no doubt to Young’s writing.
The Lost Girls is an extraordinary debut novel. While this is my very first Historical Fiction novel, I enjoyed it immensely. A huge page-turner that kept me up well past the hint of my closing eyelids. This is my new favorite
debut book of 2016. Heather Young has just gained another reader!
*I received a copy from Harper Collins / William Morrow, in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!!!
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If you’re looking for a historical novel filled with suspense, wonder, and a search for the right path, then you have found it!
Tell me. Have you guys read this yet?
Until next time,