Lou Connor, a gifted, unhappy sixteen-year-old, is desperate to escape her life of poverty in Sydney. And when she is offered a place as an exchange student at a college in America it seems as if her dreams are going to be fulfilled. Her host-family, the Hardings, has a large and beautiful house in Illinois and couldn't be more welcoming. Everything is perfect. Until she starts having to live in the suffocating and repressed atmosphere of the Harding's suburban mansion and things start to go terribly wrong. How the Light Gets In is an acutely observed story of adolescence and one that in many respects brings to mind American Beauty in its dissection of engrained prejudices and middle class hypocrisy. And in Lou Connor, M.J. Hyland has created a larger than life protagonist who mesmerises the reader with her vivacity and vulnerability, from hopeful beginning to unexpected, haunting end.