For Those Who Are Lost by Julia Bryan Thomas
The Island of Guernsey, 1940. Parents are faced with a heartbreaking decision: send their children away to England alone, or risk the inevitable Nazis invasion and all that it may hold. This heart-breaking and emotional read touches upon the long-lasting effects of war and the split-second decisions that can change a family forever.
Ever since I learned about the Island of Guernsey, their WWII history has fascinated me. Occupied by the Germans in 1940, many parents made the heart-rending decision to send their children to England first. And that is where our story, For Those Who Are Lost, begins.
Whenever I read about children being separated from parents during times of war, I’m emotionally moved. And this book was no exception. The plot immediately gripped me by the heartbreaking decisions being made. These gut-reactions have a long-lasting impact on the rest of the story and bring about themes of guilt, forgiveness, and the meaning of family.
The book alternates between multiple character perspectives and I really enjoyed seeing things through each of their eyes. Lily is a very flawed character, who seemed very selfish at first. However, the author did well at portraying feelings of guilt and the long-reaching effects of the trauma Lily had experienced too. Throughout all the chapters, the overarching narrative of forgiveness and a mother’s love were moving.
For Those Who Are Lost started out slower for me, but it was worth it. There were also elements to the story that I wish would have been expanded upon (particularly in Ava and Henry’s perspectives.) However, as a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. It’s a sad but honest look at grief and the messy, complicated bits of life — and I appreciated that message.
This thought-provoking read deals with the heavy decisions of war, and the personal ramifications it had upon all who were touched by it. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for more books by Julia Bryan Thomas!
Readers who are looking for character-based stories set during WWII.
This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. ARC provided courtesy of the publisher, Sourcebooks. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the book:
(From the publisher) One woman’s split-second decision on the eve of World War II will tear a family apart…
On the island of Guernsey, as WWII looms, many islanders make the heartbreaking choice to ship their children to safety in England, not knowing when (or if) they will be reunited. Acting on faith, Ava and Joseph Simon reluctantly send their 9-year-old son Henry and four-year-old daughter Catherine with their children’s teacher Helen, who will escort them to the mainland.
But Helen’s sister Lily is fleeing an abusive, childless marriage, and, just as the ferry is about to leave, she convinces her sister to let her take Helen’s place so that she can make a new start for herself. It is Lily who takes the children to England, and it is Lily who lets Henry get on a train by himself. But Lily has always wanted a child, and she’s unable to let Catherine go. So she decides to walk the other way, taking Catherine with her in her arms. That split-second decision impacts the lives of everyone long after the war ends.