In the aftermath of her husband’s death, Kate’s grief has caused her to sleepwalk through life. While she grieves, Kate’s controlling mother-in-law, Cricket, helps care for her daughter, Devon. When her grief begins to subside and she “wakes up,” Kate discovers that Cricket has taken over her life. Cricket has sold Kate’s house and business and enrolled Devon in private school. While packing up, in preparation to move into Cricket’s home, Kate discovers a long lost postcard from her Great Aunt Eby. Kate and Devon impulsively decide to visit Eby at Lost Lake, GA, where Kate had experienced her “last best summer” when she was twelve.
Eby owns a quaint lakeside resort, frequented by an odd cast of characters each summer. Motivated by financial issues and a desire to travel, Eby agrees to sell Lost Lake. Once word of the pending sale spreads, the community rallies to show appreciation for all Eby has done. Kate also gets reacquainted with Wes, whom she met when she was twelve. Eby, Kate and Wes, like many other guests at Lost Lake, have broken hearts and harbor secrets from their pasts.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this. The characters were all a bit odd, yet they’re likable and relatable. Grief is a central theme of the book, but so is healing. Allen’s writing is very effective in conveying that – “When your cup is empty, you do not mourn what is gone. Because if you do, you will miss the opportunity to fill it again.”
The writing is very descriptive, which is of course, a good thing. I struggled a bit though, because the scenery she created was very realistic, but not necessarily appealing to me. I wasn’t quite sure why everyone loved Lost Lake so much. There’s a bit of mystery surrounding everyone, but I had no idea that one mystery in particular would be so pivotal. The plot of the story is a slow boil, building to an unexpected climax – I can honestly say I was shocked by a “big surprise.” There are some unusual paranormal elements in the story: a talking alligator, ghostly visions and magical charms, which give the story its unique magical allure – you’ll need to forsake reality to appreciate the symbolism of these elements.