With the Nazi invasion of Guernsey immanent, residents scramble to get their children off the island and to the safety of mainland England. Ava Simon, however, is reluctant to send her young children, Henry and Catherine, away but has been persuaded it's for the best. But as Henry’s young teacher, charged with their care, leads them toward the ferry, Ava immediately regrets the decision.
However, Lily, the teacher’s older sister, steps in to escort the children on the journey. The last-minute decision to swap places has far-reaching consequences neither sister could have anticipated. For Lily, desperate to escape her wealthy, abusive husband, taking her sister’s place affords her a fresh start, to become someone else.
Lily never bargained for whom she became.
Overhearing speculation that boys and girls would be separated and sent to different locations, Lily believes that while Henry, 9, would be okay with his schoolmates, anything could happen to four-year-old Catherine. As the passengers disembark from the ferry and crowd onto the train for the next leg of their journey, Lily makes a split-second decision and disappears—with Catherine.
However, like all guilty secrets, Lily’s deception is always there,
just under the surface. Waiting.
With no plan or destination in mind, Lily chooses Cornwall, imaging the seaside views will offer a comforting familiarity with the parts of her past she loved. She settles in a small village with Catherine, and the longer she cares for the child, she finds peace and what she’d always yearned for: to be a mother. Soon, Lily has all she’s ever wanted.
Meanwhile, Henry isn’t as fortunate as his younger sister. While being moved from one school and home to another, he’s laden with the guilt of losing Catherine and longs to go home, praying she awaits him there. He’s restless, having ultimately landed in the role of part surrogate son, part caregiver, and plans for the day he can return to Guernsey and his parents.
On the island, the children’s mother struggles with her husband to keep the family farm going amid the ever-growing oppression of the Nazi forces. The loss of her children and inability to discover where they’ve gone becomes harder to cope with as days stretch onward and the life and community she loved become unrecognizable.
However, like all guilty secrets, Lily’s deception is always there, just under the surface. Waiting. Her decision to take another woman’s child forces a disjointed circle of people to choose between what is morally and legally right, and their heart’s deepest needs.
For Those Who are Lost by Julia Bryan Thomas is a powerful story of war-time sacrifice, forgiveness, and what we’re capable of doing for love. It’s an emotional Tilt-A-Whirl, both heartbreaking and uplifting. Thomas paints a vivid and well-researched picture of the emotional war that raged off the battlefield. Keep the tissues near; you’re going to need them. She’s also the author of The English Boys and Penhale Wood. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram @juliabryanthomas_author and on Twitter @AuthorJuliaT