The Lost Girls by Heather Young – 340 pages
In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child. Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine. For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.
My Review: 4 stars
The Lost Girls is a suspenseful mystery that alternates between the stories of two women of the same family, over sixty years apart. What a wonderful debut novel!
The blurb alone tells much of what the book is about, but it’s also about relationships of sisters, of community, of dependency and control. It’s also about starting over, single motherhood, healing, secrets and family. Not only is it told in two time periods, but one of them is from the perspective of an old journal that have haunted the house and this family for years. I’d love to dig up someone’s old journal! As the story moves between Justine and Lucy, we discover the sacrifices people make to protect the ones they love, the complicated relationships we can have with those we hold dearest and the cost of love and freedom.
What I enjoyed most about this book was the quiet intensity in which the mystery builds. It was very difficult to put this book down (so get ready for long nights of reading) because Heather Young beautifully weaves this thriller at a steady pace yet still had me wanting to know more. It was a perfect recipe for a page-turner. Every twist and turn had a motive that was eventually revealed through beautiful writing. I look forward to reading more from her.
Quotes I liked:
How terrible to die without finishing a book, she thought. Never to know the end of the story.”