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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is one of those books where you think, "I need to sleep, but I'm going to read just one more chapter," and the next thing you know, the book is done but you're still awake because you can't stop thinking about it.
This story alternates between Justine's story (taking place in 1999) and her great-aunt Lucy's story (taking place in 1935). In 1935, Lucy's younger sister Emily disappears. Lucy's family is practically frozen in time, as Lucy's mother waits for Emily to return. In 1999, Justine has just inherited her great-aunt's lake house, where she goes for a fresh start with her daughters.
The way the stories intertwine and slowly draw out the details is beautiful. The language is melodic and Young has an amazing way of weaving a sentence. As the secrets of the book unwound, I got chills. The story is downright haunting and I was never sure where it was going until the very end. The secondary characters are quite intriguing and well-drawn as you try to...
It's been years since I've read anything this good, and I'm a very picky reader. Seriously. The narrative is compelling, the story line utterly believable, the conclusion completely unexpected. You will not be able to put this book down, and if for some godforsaken reason (work, wailing children, armageddon) you have to anyway, you'll be angry about it and spend all of your time THINKING about it. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Heather Young masterfully weaves the past and the present in a way that changes the future in her compelling debut, LOST GIRLS. I finished it last night, but the characters have stayed with me-- I spent the morning questioning my initial take on their motivations. Young's deep dive into the realities and imperfections of motherhood left me satisfied with the idea of even basic generational improvement. A great book club read.
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