Review: How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman

“There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

– Leonard Cohen

Release Date: August 6, 2019
Thank you to Swoon Reads and NetGalley for an eARC of this novel!


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 have become.

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?


This was such an odd little book. I want to say it was a contemporary, but the paranormal/supernatural was such a huge part of the storyline. Parts of Callie’s story were so believable while others were believable up to a certain point and then it just got weird.

How The Light Gets In follows the aftermath of the death of Callie’s sister Chloe. She’s everything I imagine I’d be if my sister ever died; moody, high, out of it and just plain depressed. To add to it her father is pushing down his feeling about the situation and her mother is drinking it away. After quitting swim team, her grades taking a nosedive, and just one too many incidents her father gives her an ultimatum of reformative summer camp or helping her aunt fix up her B&B in Oregon. Obviously Oregon is the only real choice, even if it holds memories of her sister. It turns out Oregon might be the best thing for Callie though. Her aunt Lucy genuinely wants to help her move on, restoring the B&B is a good distraction, and there’s a cute yard boy who she is’t trying too hard to avoid. Weird things are happening at the house though that Callie can’t explain, a presence she can’t ignore. is she going crazy though or is a ghost really trying to communicate with her?

The relationships between Callie and her aunt Lucy along with the one between Callie and her dad really grew from the start to the end of the novel. Losing a sibling would strain any relationships but it was nice to see Callie work through this and start rebuilding herself and her family. It was realistic and relatable.

The Insta-love sucked though. Tucker was so cute and sweet, just what Callie needed but not in such a slightly toxic way. She clung to him for her happiness I felt like and after less than a summer was planning a future with him. It was all too fast and a bit too much for not only having just met but for someone trying to get over a life-changing trauma. Their relationship was also very superficial and filled with fights. Tucker loved how beautiful Callie was and she though of him as her “sun” but they constantly had arguments where one would just get pissed and walk away but later come back because of the beautiful and sun thing. The parallels between Callie and Tucker’s relationship and Tucker’s mom and Nathan were eerily similar and just made the whole thing another level of toxic. I think after all the revelations in the book it would have been best if both and went their own way in the end.

The supernatural elements in the book started off really interesting. I was getting so creeped out just reading it, it was kind of awesome. I seriously freaked myself out so bad reading this at 2 a.m. that I had to convince myself that this was a daytime read only book. It then unfortunately got unrealistic though. I wish it hadn’t crossed that line though since the first half of the novel was the perfect mix of  realistically yet subtly creepy. I felt like Callie needed a different way to find closure, more in herself. I guess I wanted a book that showed her as being able to come to terms with what happened within herself with the help of the relationships she was rebuilding.

I read Katy Upperman’s debut novel Kissing Max Holden and I actually really liked it which is why I requested How The Light Gets In. While I didn’t love it I also didn’t hate it. I’d say it fell right in the middle for me. I think I would have liked it more if it hadn’t crossed the believable line I mentioned earlier. Callie’s relationship with her aunt and father along with the town mystery surrounding the Stewart house is what really kept me interested. If you don’t mind some unbelievable part I’d say go for it, but if you’re looking for a more typical contemporary this isn’t it.

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