Review: “How the Light Gets In” by Katy Upperman

pTitle: How the Light Gets In
Author: Katy Upperman
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Content Warnings: Drug use, alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, grief, ineffective coping
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2
Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble Books-a-Million | Amazon | Kobo | Apple Books

ARC access provided by the publisher through NetGalley as part of the Fantastic Flying Book Club’s blog tour. All opinions expressed are my own.

A YA contemporary featuring a sweet summer romance and a touch of the paranormal, Katy Upperman’s new offering How the Light Gets In is a perfect beachside read.

Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeter, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the peope her parents once were.

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 is my first book from Katy Upperman, but I can safely say that I will be coming back for more.

How the Light Gets In mixes contemporary charm with paranormal mysticism built on the bittersweet foundations of love, loss, and grief. Emotion-charged straight off page one, this story is set to tug, pull and pluck at your heartstrings and leave you contemplating just how precious moments with your loved ones truly are.

I enjoyed this book a whole lot even though it took a while before I really got into it. Once I did though, there was no turning back. I fell in love with the setting, the characters, and their relationships, at the honesty and realness with which the author portrayed grief and loss in this story.


Real and honest

How the Light Gets In showed grief with an almost visceral realness – how people’s handling of it differs in varying ways, how sometimes grief and loss can drive a person to grab at whatever thing will make the pain go away no matter how temporary, and how you can still mourn and search for someone even if they’ve long been gone…even if you’ve never known them.

I felt for Callie, her mother and father, and Lucy. Losing a sister – a daughter, someone who has so much more ahead of them – is a tough loss that took something from all of them.

I felt for Tucker. Having lost his mother without even knowing her, and having a father who’s reluctant to even tell him a smidge about the woman who bore him left him with questions and made him mistrustful.

As someone who has lost a number of loved ones, this one is something that deeply resonated with me. Grief plays a crucial role in the plot of this story. It is a delicate topic, but one handled well and with much sensitivity.

How the Light Gets In (3)

Small-town charm

I don’t usually mind a story’s setting much. I trust the author to build her story, its world, place her characters in the setting she deems will best serve her narrative. For this one though, I just couldn’t help but fall in love with Bell Cove and it’s coastal small-town charm. There’s just something magical, at the same time eerie about it especially thinking the paranormal elements this novel has. It’s just perfect!

A ghost story & a mystery

This was a bonus I never expected to get from this book. Yes, the blurb hinted at a bit of a ghost story, but that’s selling it short. It plays a slightly bigger role and totally gives this story an added dimension. The inclusion of small-town mystery – the intrigue and rumors surrounding it included – was a welcome and fresh addition.

How the Light Gets In (4)

Family, friendship & love

It wasn’t an immediate connection, but I grew to adore Callie. There’s a vulnerability in her at the same time that there is a hidden, undiscovered strength. Tucker, meanwhile, first appeared to be Callie’s opposite – the bright sunshine to her gloomy raincloud. As the story progressed though, I just couldn’t help but see how much similarities they have – they’ve both lost people, both still grieving. It was beautiful reading how they discover these similarities bit by bit and use it as a common ground to begin something new that’s just for both of them.

Another thing I loved was Callie’s, and by extension Tucker’s, interaction with the rest of the characters in this book, most especially with Lucy because she’s one of my favorites. More than an aunt, she’s like an older sister for Callie, and like her, is also swallowed up in guilt after Chloe’s death (although she copes with it in a different way.)


Overall, How the Light Gets In is an enjoyable read that perfectly blends summer romance and paranormal mystery. It has its flaws, yes. It starts slow, and at times it meanders through unneeded introspection. But there’s much more to love in this one that I overlooked them and focused on the good stuff instead. I’d definitely recommend this to YA contemporary readers who love a bit of mystery (and a ghost story).

about the author


KATY UPPERMAN is a wife, mama, author, reader, baker, and wanderer. She writes novels for teens and teens at heart. She’s a Washington State University alum (go Cougs!), a country music fanatic, and a makeup stockpiler. She loves the ocean, pedicures, sunshine, Instagram, Dirty Dancing and The Princess Bride, Jelly Bellies, true crime documentaries, and Friday Night Lights.

Katy’s debut novel, Kissing Max Holden, was published August 1, 2017, and her sophomore effort, The Impossibility of Us, released July 31, 2018. Her third novel, How the Light Gets In, will be out August 6, 2019. All three books are with Swoon Reads/Macmillan. She’s represented by Victoria Marini of the Irene Goodman Agency.

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Win a copy of Katy Upperman’s “How the Light Gets In” and some swag. Open INTERNATIONAL.

Giveaway starts August 12 and ends August 26.

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