Wednesday, June 12, 2024

How the Light Gets In

How the Light Gets In by Joyce Maynard
6/25/24; 432 pages
William Morrow

How the Light Gets In by Joyce Maynard is a recommended literary domestic drama and a sequel to her 2021 novel Count the Ways. This character driven novel returns to the story of Eleanor and her family through fifteen years (2010 to 2024). Fifty-four-year-old Eleanor has moved from Brookline back to the New Hampshire family farm to care for their brain-injured son, Toby, now an adult. This continuation of the original story and documents Eleanor's relationship with her family and her struggles with the societal changes around her.

As expected the writing is excellent, the characters are fully realized, and the complex story of a family is presented. I loved Count the Ways and was looking forward to revisiting Eleanor and the music she is listening to as events unfold. Alas, I didn't enjoy How the Light Gets In as much as Count the Ways. There was too much reiterating of past events at the beginning of the novel. This is a plus if you didn't read Count the Ways or if are many years between reading the two novels and you need a reminder of what happened previously. It becomes a negative to spend so much time covering past events for a novel just published in 2021. The second negative was the insertion of every recent divisive political or societal event that has recently occurred. I have cautioned more than one author recently to keep their personal views and editorializing on contemporary social/political topics to themselves and out of books as it diminishes the novel. Thanks to William Morrow for providing me with an advance reader's copy via NetGalley. My review is voluntary and expresses my honest opinion.

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