The Last Lost Girl by Maria Hoey
Poolbeg Crimson Press Ltd: 7/11/17
digital reading copy; 448 pages
paperback ISBN-13: 9781781998311
The Last Lost Girl by Maria Hoey is a highly recommended family drama and mystery set in Ireland during two time periods.
In the summer of 1976 Jacqueline Brennan's
fifteen-year-old sister, Lilly, disappeared. Of the Brennan girls,
Lilly is the beautiful older sister, Gayle is the middle sister, and
eleven-year-old Jacqueline is the youngest. During 1976, Lilly is
chaffing under her father's rules and is secretly seeing a boy who works
at the carnival. Much like any younger child, Jacqueline secretly
watches her older sister, trying to capture clues about what she is
doing, thinking, and planning.
Jumping thirty seven year later, now Jacqueline is returning to her
childhood home in Blackberry Lane to visit her father for several weeks.
Gayle is usually the one who regularly visits him and takes care of
him, especially during the anniversary of Lilly's disappearance, but she
has other pressing needs with her own family so it falls to Jacqueline
to stay with him. While in her old home events happen that lead her to
search for the truth about what happened to Lilly. Jacqueline has always
believed that Lilly ran away and may still be alive somewhere today.
The police never found a body and there were no arrests. After finding
an old postcard at her father's house, she sets off to see if it holds a
clue to Lilly's whereabouts.
The Last Lost Girl is a well written family drama with a
narrative that jumps back and forth between the two time periods and
what was happening in the Brennan family, including the increasingly
rebellious behavior of Lilly. While the question of the mystery is
captivating, it also drags out a bit when Jacqueline takes off for
England in hopes of clues or information about what happened to Lilly.
This section is more a time of self-discovery for Jacqueline more than
any in-depth fact-gathering mission.
While the character of Jacqueline and the fifteen-year-old Lilly are
well developed, neither are particularly sympathetic characters. Young
Jacqueline is portrayed as a typical younger sister snooping on her
older sister, who resents her and her snooping. Sibling rivalry, and
secrets, abound, as does some favoritism by the parents. Jacqueline does
grow as a person, which is a plus.
The ending provides closure for the mystery, but I found it to be too abrupt and a little unbelievable. The Last Lost Girl
is really more about Jacqueline growing as a person than a thrilling
mystery. What happened to Lilly is supposedly the big question, but
Jacqueline's sudden search almost seems too contrived. As a single,
independent woman she could have searched for her sister long before
this and, after asking a few questions, would have visited the same
place in England without the discovery of the postcard. Read this one
for the great writing, and the self-discovery rather than the mystery.
My review copy was courtesy of the publisher/author via Library Thing.