Friday, June 21, 2013

How The Light Gets In - M. J. Hyland

How The Light Gets InDisclaimer: I have never read The Catcher in the Rye.  I never had to read it for school and I really have no inclination of my own to read it.  I did not pick this book up because it was supposed to be like Catcher in the Rye because, obviously, that meant nothing to me.  It just sounded mildly interesting while perusing the shelves of the used bookstore the boy and I like to frequent, so I bought it.

I have never encountered such a stupid, frustrating heroine in my entire life.  The writing quality was good, but the story revolved completely around Lou's stupid decisions, and since she's supposed to have such an enormously high IQ (though we never find out exactly what it is) it makes it all the worse.

So.  The story revolves around Louise Connor, aka Lou, who moves from Sydney, Australia to somewhere around Chicago in the USA to spend a year abroad.  She never wants to go back to her family because she hates them and thinks they're awful, even though they don't actually seem to be that bad.  Her parents are unemployed, only receiving some sort of governmental stipend, so the family is pretty poor, but they spend their time delivering Meals on Wheels to old people, and there were several anecdotes about how sweet her mother or father could be.  But Lou's real problem appears to be with her sisters.  They do sound like they were mean, but...  Lou didn't have to be involved with them.  She also constantly calls them "sluts," a perception that appears to stem from them being interested in sex (even though neither seem to have a string of guys; one of them has a fiance, the other a boyfriend, and between the two of them only one past boyfriend is mentioned), smoke, drink, and want to have babies.  Erm...what?  And what's even more "what" about it is that Lou acts exactly the same way, except she's apparently afraid of sex for some reason, even though she takes her shirt off and engages in various sexually-related acts throughout the story.  What what what?  She also hates people who are prettier than she is, calling them all "low-IQ witches" when she never even spoke to them to determine their intelligence level.  She's supposed to be quirky, I think, with her fascination for learning new words, singing, writing notes, and sleeping in spare bedrooms to cure her insomnia, but really she just comes across as your typical socially-inept character, with the bonus that she's supposed to be smart but is a total moron.

Also, everyone--and I mean everyone--in this book seems to be out to get her, or at least she thinks they are, when they all actually have perfectly good reasons for what they do.  Except James and Tom, who are just creepy individuals all around.  Oh, and did I mention that I'm not sure I trust Lou as a narrator?  She seems to be a compulsive liar and blatantly contradicts herself at several points.  I'm not sure if this was bad continuity or, what seems more likely, Hyland using Lou as an unreliable narrator.

Anyway, if you want to read a book about a complete moron who spends too much time trying to be "deep" and makes a lot of bad decisions, this would be a good book to read.  The other characters are pretty well done and the writing isn't half bad at all.  But Lou's sheer stupidity, contradictions, and lies made me pretty much hate her.

2 stars out of 5.

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