This post contains affiliate links. No matter how many World War II books I read, I always learn something new. Although Guernsey is the setting for some popular literature, I didn’t know much about the area or its role in World War II. I learned more about that in For Those Who Are Lost by Julia Bryan Thomas. Although I enjoyed this book, some aspects left me feeling unsatisfied.
About For Those Who Are Lost by Julie Bryan Thomas
On the island of Guernsey, Ava and Joseph Simon must make a heart-wrenching decision. The Germans will invade soon. Should they send their children, Henry, 9, and Catherine, 4, with their teachers to evacuate the island? Should they send Henry and keep Catherine with them? In the end, they decide to send both children, trusting Henry’s teacher, Helen, will care for them and keep them together.
Meanwhile, Helen is reluctant to leave because she’s young and wants to care for her elderly parents. Helen is preparing to leave with the children when her sister, Lily, appears. Lily is married to an abusive man. She sees the evacuation as the perfect opportunity to escape her marriage and begin again, so Lily takes Helen’s place in the evacuation.
While Lily accompanies both children on the first day of the evacuation, on the second day, she tricks Henry and sends him on the evacuation bus while she slips away with Catherine. Lily had always wanted children but was unable to have them. She reasoned she was justified in splitting the children because Henry was old enough to care for himself and Catherine was too young to have strangers care for her. Lily knows she can do a better job taking care of Catherine than others.
The remainder of the book follows these characters as Ava and Joseph are separated from their children for five long years. Much changed in that time, and everyone’s lives are changed forever.
My Thoughts on The Book
While this is a work of fiction, it is rooted in reality. The residents of Guernsey did evacuate their children to England because believed they would only be separated for a few weeks. However, the Germans invaded, and parents were separated from their children for five years!
I loved learning more about this part of World War II history.
I also enjoyed the book and kept reading to see what would happen in each character’s life.
However, I did feel that many of the characters’ had muted reactions and emotions. For instance, when Lily separates Catherine from Henry, Catherine doesn’t ask about her brother until the next day. I find that unrealistic. The siblings would likely cling to one another when there was so much upheaval in their lives and they were separated from their parents.
Likewise, when one character learns she has terminal cancer, she immediately asks, “How long do I have?” I have not been in that situation, but I would imagine one first goes into shock before calmly, quickly asking, “How long do I have?”
If you enjoy World War II historical fiction, you would likely enjoy this book. However, be advised that the author glosses over some parts of the story, which I can’t reveal without giving away the story, and sometimes the characters’ actions didn’t ring true to me.
I give For Those Who Are Lost by Julia Bryan Thomas 3.5 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.
I received this book for free to review in return for my honest opinion.