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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Sixteen-year-old Lou Connor is presented with the chance of a lifetime. Born in Australia to a family mired in poverty, she's accepted by a student exchange program and embarks on a trip to Chicago to spend a year with an affluent American family. It's an opportunity to leave her unemployed, shiftless parents and her equally unimpressive sisters behind. But the question is, will Lou truly be able to break free of her past?
In the protagonist of Lou, Hyland has created a smart and perceptive young woman who spends her last few days at home reading poetry at the kitchen table, while her parents lounge on the couch, watching TV. And Lou's host parents, despite their initial appeal, seem as emotionally inaccessible as her Aussie ones.
An unusual coming-of-age story, How the Light Gets In is also a stunning social satire. For Lou's host family, a younger version of Jonathan Franzen's Lambert clan, leaves her feeling isolated and alone, and her reaction is a horrifying self-sabotage. Hyland seems to be questioning the current zeitgeist in a stinging rebuke: If Lou can't make it despite the rare gift she's been given, then what hope is there for the rest of our kids? Readers who enjoyed the exploration of a family's dysfunction and its effect on a teenage protagonist in last season's Like the Red Panda are sure to enjoy this debut, too. (Fall 2004 Selection)