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How the Light Gets In Paperback – 2 Jun 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Walker (2 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1406334499
  • ISBN-13: 978-1406334494
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 234,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Even edgier, if less ethereal, is How the Light Gets In, which charts the progress of Lou, a bright teenager from a poor suburb of Sydney who wins a place on an exchange programme in the United States...There's drink, drugs, teenage fumbling and a dark undertow as Hyland throws a harsh spotlight on the turmoil of growing up. Daily Telegraph Yearning for whatever adults don't want you to have, while tormented by visions of being able to grab it with no need to say please or thank you, is the essence of the teenage state. How the Light Gets In is one of the best evocations of that state I have read, and cries out for the young adult readership that this co-publication is designed to attract. The Guardian Online

Book Description

New from Walker/Canongate: an acutely observed story of adolescence, featuring one of the most likeable but challenging young adults in contemporary fiction.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Surrounded by poverty, crime and a family whom she feels she has nothing in common with, Lou Connor is 16 when she gets accepted as an exchange student in America. This is her big chance to escape from her unhappy existence in Sydney and when she meets her host family, The Hardings, and sees them live the American dream, she desperately wants to become part of their lives forever. But Lou has always been used to freedom - her family seem disinterested in her life to the point where she can do whatever she wants, so she soon becomes suffocated with the Harding's rules and regulations, to the point where the only way she can breathe is to rebel.
I didn't particularly like Lou when I first met her, but with time I began to understand and empathise with parts of her personality. It becomes obvious almost instantly that she is a lonely, mixed up young girl, desperately trying to escape from her unhappy existence. She is a frustrating character; she appears to have no feelings whatsoever for her own family and seems intent on getting as far away as possible from them, and is blind to the fact that she creates many of her own problems. But it is important to remember that she's only sixteen, a particularly self-absorbed age - I try to forget about what I put my own parents through at that time.... But as she starts to show genuine remorse for some of her mistakes it becomes impossible not to warm towards Lou.
I haven't read a book in ages which has so accurately depicted the turmoil of teenage years. The author writes so wonderfully and uses the first person narrative so effectively that the reader is able to climb into the character and I think this is what makes the book such a success.
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By A Customer on 29 Jun. 2004
Format: Paperback
This book has been compared to Catcher in the Rye quite a bit; it's a big call but a fair one I think. Lou, the narator, has the same sharp, skewed observstins of the world and a fine way with language (as, of course, does the author). Some of the descriptions of people in particular (like flo bapes and the hostel councillor) are fantastic and often very funny.
I read this in a day as the writing is clear and uncluttered and there is a great sense of tension as you wait for Lou to finally make the big mistake you know is inevitably going to come. This last is, I think, part of what makes the book good - Lou wants to do the right thing and to live out the american dream but you can see she is simply unsuited to accept the crappiness and stupidity of life that this requires. This makes her seem simultaneously brave and niave.
all in all, a great read.
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Format: Paperback
I don't re-read books very often, but I could read this book every year and not get bored. There are always new brilliant thoughts to be discovered like: "I want to try a little cereal from each box, like a sampler of cereal and I decide to do it, because it's the kind of mildy eccentric thing that makes Henry happy."

The main character Lou is a very intelligent person, but keeps getting into trouble. Coming from a very run down family in a very run down flat in Sidney it clashes with the ideals of her host family she's going to stay with during her year in the States as an exchange student. (There are a few short flash backs of Lou's old life that are brilliant and gives you a very good picture of who she is and where she's coming from. I especially like the letters written by Lou's mum.)

The book is divided into three parts. The first part is about Lou arriving and getting to know the family and going on a two week road trip with them. The second part is about Lou starting school and getting into all sorts of trouble. Trying to fit in, but gets misunderstood. The third part is about what happens to Lou after she's been expelled from the family after taking drugs.

Even if it doesn't feel like a lot of action there's a real roller coaster to be travelling with Lou's mind and the first person narrative is very precise and offers a lot of insights about American life and the hypocrisy that's going on.

I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to read about a troubled teenager from a very unique perspective.
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Format: Paperback
A rare book - it communicates those inner feelings that can be hard to articulate and which mean so much. For me, these are feelings largely from the past that I still have a yearning for. There aren't many books that can take us to places like this one can - disturbing, beautiful and a damn good read too!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed Hyland's later novel but I'm finding this one a little excruciating in the hyper-'gawkiness' of its principal character. We all know that being a teenager is when we are perhaps most likely to end up in awkward situations. Yet in this novel, it is relentless, and as a result it is very easy to second-guess what will happen next.

Where the novel is at its best is in describing the near asphyxiation of middle class North America, a culture that is possibly the most restrained and controlling in the English speaking world (in spite of the British reputation for the 'stiff upper lip'). Yet I am not sure that I can survive the juxtaposition of this setting with the relentless gawkiness of the central character. To put this another way, it is a good book, if at times rather predictable. The problem is that the author successfully creates an oppressive atmosphere from which - at least up until p.186 - there is little prospect of escape.
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