The Lost Girls by Heather Young

The Lost Girls Book Cover The Lost Girls
Heather Young
William Morrow

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.

The Lost Girls by Heather Young deals with some dark family secrets, and terrible tragedies. We travel back and forth between a summer vacation in 1935, and the present time troubles of a single mother of two girls. In a journal left behind for Justine, Lucy shares the details of the dreadful summer her 6-year old sister went missing from their summer vacation home. Justine is given the vacation home when Lucy dies, along with all of its secrets and treasures.

Someone needs to know about the Evans girls.

Right away it’s clear that Lucy has something dark to tell us about the summer of 1935.  Lucy is timid and trying to understand why her older sister Lilith is suddenly morphing into a flirting young woman. She begins to feel abandoned and takes it out on her little sister Emily. Both Lilith and Lucy are mean to Emily which was difficult to read. For Lucy it stemmed from Emily being the favorite, for Lilith I’m not sure the motivations. Both would soon miss her terribly.

A few months after Justine was abandoned by the girls’ father, she finds herself living with a nice man; thus, completing her need of a stable family.  Yet, when the chance to leave town with her own money and her own house presented itself, she left town immediately. She knew their relationship wasn’t healthy. He loved her a little too much.

It doesn’t take long to realize her dream of relocating won’t work. Justine’s daughters don’t adjust well to the school, and her problems literally followed them to the lake house. Her unreliable mother is determined to find her own inheritance inside the house. Then to top it off, her boyfriend appears and does his best to squeeze right back into her life. In The Lost Girls, its easy to see that Emily Evans isn’t the only one lost. It seems that the women of the Evans family all find themselves figuratively lost and face great hurtles to find themselves again.

The Lost Girls – a little dark, definitely haunting.

The ultimate secrets of the Evans family can be surmised from the character’s behavior, and yet I was still intrigued by this book. Young Emily’s fate is not obvious and it kept me interested. I admit that I skimmed a lot of what seemed uninteresting to me: teenagers lingering and flirting, Justine and her girls adjusting to the cabin, it was all white noise. At the time it just seemed trivial and I was more concerned about Emily. Ultimately, this story stays with you for a few days after you finish. “If only” was a common thread of thought for the next few days that I contemplated the end.

 

 

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