Here’s a little story for you:
Once upon a time a girl was scrolling through NetGalley for some new arcs and she saw a book cover that looked interesting. She clicked on the title to learn more. After reading the summary, she was thinking about requesting the title.
She glanced at the author’s name…
…and immediately slammed the “request” button, breaking her laptop trackpad in the process.
Spoiler alert: that girl is me.
Another spoiler alert: I didn’t really break my trackpad, but it feels like I came close.
Needless to say I received an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!
Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeted, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the people her parents once were.
When she returns to her aunt’s run-down coastal Victorian one year after Chloe’s death, Callie resigns herself to a summer of guilt and home renovations. She doesn’t expect to be charmed by the tiny coastal town or by Tucker Morgan, a local boy brimming with sunshine.
But even as her days begin to brighten, Callie’s nights are crowded with chilling dreams, unanswered questions, and eerie phenomenon that have her convinced she’s being haunted. Will Callie be able to figure out what her sister is trying to communicate before it’s too late?
Katy Upperman’s books hold a special place in my heart. About a year ago, I decided to give blogging and NetGalley a shot. The first book I ever requested from NetGalley and reviewed on this blog was The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman, and now, a year later, I get to review another one of her ARCs.
I’m not usually a sentimental person but damn if I’m not feeling the feels right now.
Anywho, to the actual review!
How the Light Gets In is an examination of grief and how our relationships with ourselves and others are impacted in the wake of tragedy.
Our protagonist Cal is given an ultimatum by her dad: go to a summer camp/rehab center or spend the summer with her aunt. Cal chooses to help her aunt restore her bed and breakfast and spends the summer growing and experiencing things for the first time all over again. Secrets about Callie and those around her are revealed throughout the novel, and the blend of genres keeps things really interesting.
Thankfully I’ve never had to deal with losing a sibling, but I have experienced multiple deaths in my family and I think the representation of losing a loved one is well-done in this book. Cal feels guilty for surviving, can’t stop thinking about the last things she said to her sister, and can’t cope with her feelings in a non self-destructive way. I love that Callie finds her way through her grief both by herself and with the help of those around her. The author acknowledges that loss takes time to work through and that, while you need to take the steps to move on by yourself, you also need a supportive net of friends and family around you.
This brings me to the characters. Cal was very intentionally unlikeable at first, and this really made her character growth that much more apparent as we progress through the novel. Tucker was a solid character with his own past that supports the plot and adds another layer of intrigue to the story. Plus, he’s a cute love interest. I would have liked a bit more about Cal’s aunt because she seemed awesome but I don’t see how that would have fit into the story without taking away from Callie. So, I’ll deal. All in all the cast of characters work together to drive both plot and character development.
I mentioned a blend of genres earlier and this aspect really took me by surprise! I was expecting this to just be a contemporary book with romance and self-discovery (which it is) but the book ended up being more original than that. You guys, there are GHOSTS in this book. The supernatural element doesn’t feel forced or awkward at all. In fact, it just made the book so much more unique and packed more of an emotional punch by the end. The author did a great job integrating these two genres without really making it a “my whole world has changed” focal point in the main character’s development.
The romance, grief, family, and supernatural aspects of this book worth together to create strong characters and plots that kept me turning page after page. I’d definitely recommend this book and will keep following Katy Upperman for her next novels.