Title: Into the Darkest Day
Author: Kate Hewitt
Page Length: 350
Publication Date: May 14, 2020
Synopsis: She had to step outside and hold the paper up to the moonlight to read it, but when she was able to make out the words, her heart felt as if it would drop right out of her chest. Because the message was in German.
When Lily meets enigmatic GI Matthew in war-torn London, she doesn’t expect to fall in love. While her sister starts a reckless affair with another GI, Lily tries to hide her growing feelings for Matthew.
But Matthew has a devastating secret. One that could change their lives forever.
Present day, America:
Abby lives a quiet life on an apple farm in Wisconsin. Tormented by survivor’s guilt after the tragic deaths of her mother and brother, Abby leaves the orchards as little as possible, keeping her life small, peaceful and safe… Until she is contacted by Englishman Simon Elliot, who arrives nursing a heartbreak of his own, and bearing a World War Two medal that he claims belonged to Abby’s grandfather.
Together they begin to piece together the heartbreaking story of their relatives’ war. But as the story brings Abby and Simon closer—tentatively beginning to lean on one another to heal—they uncover a dark secret from the past.
And like Lily and Matthew nearly eighty years before them, it will make Abby and Simon question whether you can ever truly trust someone, even when they have your heart…
When Simon’s grandmother asks him, while on her death bed, to give a World War II purple heart medal back to its rightful owner, Simon travels to Wisconsin and meets Abby. Abby is the granddaughter of Tom, the Purple Heart recipient who knew Simon’s grandmother during the war.
As Simon and Abby grow closer and learn more about their grandparents’ connection, they uncover some dark secrets from the past. How did Sophie and Tom know each other? Who is Matthew, and why is he so secretive? Why does Sophie (Simon’s grandmother) want Tom’s forgiveness after all these years? Together, Simon and Abby unravel the secrets of the past while facing their own hidden demons.
The story is told in present-day America with flashbacks to Tom and Sophie’s story. It is an interesting juxtaposition when you compare the ever-changing and intense war-time setting to the stagnant yet tranquil farm life of the present. Simon and Abby’s story progresses at a slower pace than Tom and Sophie’s, further stressing the influence one’s setting has on life.
Throughout the story, there are hints that Abby’s past haunts her and hinders her from moving on and truly living her life. She is trapped in a devastating vortex of survivor’s guilt after the death of two family members fifteen years ago. Watching her deal with the pain of the past, seeing her face her father and everything that has been left unsaid, and witnessing her strength is a highlight of the book.
Simon has his own guilt and regrets, and he and Abby support and understand each other well. I love their easy banter and their innate ability to accept each other, faults and all. They have a unique connection that is a pleasure to watch deepen, and I found myself rooting for this couple.
That being said, I found myself more fascinated in Lily’s (Sophie’s more reserved sister) story, and her budding relationship with Matthew, than any other in the book, which makes sense as the flashbacks focus more on Lily.
Though Lily and Sophie are sisters, they are very different. Lily is much more serious and cautious, and Sophie is more impulsive and carefree. Lily reminds me a bit of Abby in their gentle personalities, their sensitivity, and their selflessness. As their stories unfold, shocking truths are revealed that explain their connections to Tom and the mysterious Matthew.
As Sophie and Tom become closer, Lily connects with Tom’s friend Matthew. He is quiet and precise, sincere and a little mysterious. Lily switches between fascination and suspicion until she learns the devastating truth of Matthew’s past. Matthew also holds an important role in what happened to Tom and Sophie.
This is a well-developed, immersive story that explores different times and different circumstances. It focuses on family responsibility, the need to feel purposeful, finding one’s identity, dealing with one’s choices, and living through tragedy. Messages of hope, perseverance, and love are also at the forefront of the novel.
Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.
- Lily and Matthew’s story. Their roles in the war and their developing relationship in the midst of fear, death, and destruction are lovely.
- Abby’s growth. She has tremendous amounts of guilt that stagnate her. Watching her heal and move on from the wounds of the past was one of my favorite parts.
- The inclusion of interesting and historically accurate aspects of the war.
Readers of historical fiction, specifically related to World War II, will enjoy this book. There are some graphic scenes and details that might disturb some readers. However, these scenes are relevant to the story and handled with honesty and historical accuracy.