A powerful debut from an Australian novelist that features one of the most likeable but contrary figures you are likely to meet in contemporary fiction. Lou Connor, a gifted, unhappy sixteen-year-old, is desperate to escape her life of poverty in Sydney. When she is offered an exchange student placement at a school in America it seems as if her dreams will be fulfilled. Her host family has a beautiful house in Illinois and couldn't be more welcoming . . . until she starts to be distubed by the suffocating and repressed atmosphere of their suburban mansion and things begin to go terribly wrong. How the Light Gets In is an acutely observed story of adolescence, reminiscent of American Beauty in its dissection of engrained prejudices and middle-class hypocrisy. In Lou Connor, Hyland has created a larger-than-life protagonist who mesmerises the reader with her vivacity and vulnerability, from hopeful beginning to unexpected, haunting end.

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