Sunday, November 3, 2019

Book Review: "How the Light Gets In" by Katy Upperman

Katy Upperman's new book, How the Light Gets In, is a story of grief, recovery, letting others in, and learning to forgive—especially yourself.

It’s been nearly a year since Callie’s younger sister Chloe died, and she and her family are still the worse for wear. The two were inseparable for so long. Callie has quit swimming and avoids social contact, spending her days getting stoned and blaming herself for what happened, while her mother spends most days in a depressed, alcohol-soaked haze.

With summer approaching and her father at his wits' end, Callie is given an ultimatum: go to a wilderness survival camp and straighten herself out or go live with her aunt in the small town of Bell Cove and help her get her house ready to become a B&B. While it seems like an easy choice, Bell Cove is where everything happened with Chloe last summer, and Callie isn't quite sure she's ready to reopen those wounds. But it's still better than living in the wilderness!

"Sometimes, I'm desperate to remember, to dissolve into remembering. Sometimes, I want to light my memories on fire, so they burn until nothing's left but ash and despair."

Callie arrives, hurting, resentful, and just wanting to stay in bed for the summer. She doesn’t count on the persistence of her aunt or the appearance of Tucker, a handsome local guy hired to work in the house’s garden. Tucker’s easy, carefree charm is able to make some cracks in Callie’s armor, although she tries not to let herself be vulnerable. But Tucker’s family has secrets of their own.

As Callie fights her attraction to Tucker and her guilt and sadness about Chloe, she doesn’t count on chilling encounters with what appears to be a ghost. Is it Chloe? Will Callie get the chance to resolve the unfinished business she and her sister have? What does this ghost want?

I liked this story very much but thought the mystical, spiritual elements didn’t work as well as everything else. I felt that part of the story dragged everything else down although I understood the point. At its core, this is a story about recovering from grief and finding hope again, and that's what I enjoyed the most.

Upperman is a great writer and I’ll definitely want to read more of her books.

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