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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

How the Lights Get In

Narrator: Joyce Maynard

Count the Ways #2

Harper Audio

ISBN: 978-0062398307

Publisher: William Morrow

Publication Date: 06/25/2024

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

From New York Times bestselling author Joyce Maynard comes the eagerly anticipated follow-up to her beloved novel Count the Ways—a complex story of three generations of a family and its remarkable, resilient, indomitable matriarch, Eleanor.

Following the death of her former husband, Cam, fifty-four-year-old Eleanor has moved back to the New Hampshire farm where they raised three children to care for their brain-injured son, Toby, now an adult. Toby’s older brother, Al, is married and living in Seattle with his wife; their sister, Ursula, lives in Vermont with her husband and two children. Although all appears stable, old resentments, anger, and bitterness simmer just beneath the surface.

How the Light Gets In follows Eleanor and her family through fifteen years (2010 to 2024) as their story plays out against a uniquely American backdrop and the events that transform their world (climate change, the January 6th insurrection, school violence) and shape their lives (later-life love, parental alienation, steadfast friendship). With her trademark sensitivity and insight, Joyce Maynard paints an indelible portrait of characters both familiar and new making their way over rough, messy, and treacherous terrain to find their way to what is, for each, a place to call “home.”

My Review

NYT bestselling author Joyce Maynard (a favorite) returns with a follow-up to Count the Ways with #2, her latest moving literary domestic suspense, HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN —a captivating and complex emotional journey of three generations spanning fifteen years of a family's life after trauma, their struggles, and their triumphs.


Eleanor (age 54) has moved back to the farm in New Hampshire after the death of her ex-husband, Cam, to the place where they raised their three children, filled with good and bad memories to care for her adult son, Toby who suffered a brain injury as a child.

Toby's older brother, Al, is married and living in Seattle with his wife; their sister, Ursula, lives in Vermont with her husband and two children.

From 2010 to 2024, there were changes, old resentments, anger, bitterness, and struggles. We see the outside world changes throughout the fifteen years and the forever changes of family, personalities, anger, frustrations, and dreams past and present.

"A world of trouble. An ocean of tears. Her heart, broken in a million pieces and put back together."

My thoughts...

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN is a complex story of family, tragedy, hope, struggles, dreams, joy, love, loss, pain, coping, and healing. The author takes us back to the original story as a continuation of the lives, the family, and their relationships set against the backdrop of American history.

With Maynard's signature lyrical style, she eloquently weaves a bittersweet story of history, music, stories, hearts, the what-ifs, the damaged, troubled, the broken, and imperfect as they may be, beauty, strength, understanding, and light are found through the cracks.

A master storyteller, Joyce Maynard draws you into a complex family filled with love, wisdom, flawed and relatable characters, and the messiness of life and family. I loved the Epilogue and the Author's Note about the music in the novel and its importance to the characters and American history and culture. The chapter subtitles were clever and fun!

HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN is a heart-wrenching memorable story about a woman's resilience as she maneuvers through life, past and present, both inside her own world and the events of the outside world.

Compelling a beautiful family sequel that fans of the first novel will enjoy and appreciate, as well as those reading it as a standalone. I adore this author's writing, an avid long-time fan, and a gifted storyteller! I highly recommend all her books, especially The Bird Hotel (top books of 2023).


For fans of the author and Elizabeth Berg, Anna Quindlen, Catherine Ryan Hyde and Fredrik Backman. For those who enjoy literary fiction, attention to detail, and family dramas mixed with history, culture, and music. I recommend reading Count the Ways prior to reading HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN to get a better understanding of Eleanor and the events leading up to this novel.

Thank you to William Morrow and NetGalley for providing an early review copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. I also listened to the audiobook narrated by the author for an exceptional performance as the characters come alive.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars

Pub Date: June 25, 2024


“If ever we needed a novel capable of healing our troubled, world-weary souls, that time is now. But where, oh where, is the book? Actually, it has arrived: Joyce Maynard’s new novel, How the Light Gets In. And what a gift it is.”

— Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls and the North Bath Trilogy of Fool novels

“Joyce Maynard has stitched together a warm, rich patchwork quilt of a novel that reminds us history is made up simply of our stories; and that even in broken, imperfect things one finds beauty and strength.”

— Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"Joyce Maynard’s How the Light Gets In grabbed ahold of me in the first chapter and didn’t let go until I’d finished the epilogue. A master storyteller at the top of her game, Maynard populates her story with characters I worried about, rooted for, and related to. I LOVED this book!"

— Wally Lamb, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“In How the Light Gets In, Joyce Maynard casts her clear eye over all we have endured thus far in our still-young century, illustrating as she does just how we have endured it: through bumbling luck and enduring love, hope, persistence, the consolations of nature, the comfort of daily work. A novel that understands how grace accrues over time in families, making the past bearable, the future possible. A wise and lovely book.”

— Alice McDermott, National Book Award-winning author

“In turns joyful and heartbreaking, How the Light Gets In is a wise and bittersweet portrait of a complicated family. Joyce Maynard writes the kind of books that readers adore – bighearted, beautifully crafted, propulsively readable, and full of flawed and fickle characters who make difficult decisions and big mistakes, stumbling through life and love, trying to do their best. A word of advice: clear your calendar before you start reading!”

— Adrienne Brodeur, nationally bestselling author of Little Monsters and Wild Game

“How the Light Gets In feels like a conversation with a trusted sister about a wide circle of family members in order to discover their secrets and hopes. The story of Eleanor and her family is told in marvelous loops that fill in the gaps between the past and the present, the personal and the news of the day, difficult challenges and their remedies. Joyce Maynard has given us another generous, satisfying novel: she is a wonder.”

— Alice Elliott Dark, author of Fellowship Point and In the Gloaming

“Readers will appreciate this sweeping and heart-wrenching family story in the mode of Elizabeth Berg and Anna Quindlen.”

— Booklist

“[A] heartwarming chronicle of a woman coping with changes in her life and in the country. . . . Maynard’s punchy chapters highlight pivotal moments in her characters’ lives, and she holds readers’ interest by showing how their relationships evolve.”

— Publishers Weekly

“A stirring, satisfying sequel to Count the Ways . . . . This ample narrative is arranged into tasty vignettes with appealing, sometimes funny subtitles, making it a pleasure to digest. Everything this great American author’s fans are looking for.”

— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Wonderfully absorbing, precise and emotionally astute . . .I was moved by the characters' ambivalences, their misgivings, their anger, but most of all by their complex and fascinating love." — Marisa Silver, New York Times bestselling author of The Mysteries, on Count the Ways

“A fearlessly candid, heartrendingly forthright examination of the joys and terrors of family life from the perspective of a woman of unusual sensitivity and empathy, Count the Ways takes us on a memorable journey.”

— Joyce Carol Oates

“Joyce Maynard is the queen of the family saga, and Count the Ways is the best! Instantly addicting, the story of Eleanor, Cam, and their children pulls you in and wraps itself around you like an heirloom quilt made of familiarity, intimacy, and the orchestral complexity of loving the people closest to us. This is the novel you’ll be longing to return to at the end of every day and one you will re-read for years to come.”

— Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Lost Family

“Cut[s] across moments of national and personal upheaval to examine the complex web of family against the backdrop of history.” — New York Times Book Review on Count the Ways

"The novel bites off a lot—a Brett Kavanaugh–inspired storyline, a domestic abuse situation, a trans child, Eleanor's career—and manages to resolve them all. . . Maynard creates a world rich and real enough to hold the pain she fills it with."

— Kirkus Reviews (starred review) on Count the Ways

“How did Maynard know that this is exactly the book we all need now? This exhilaratingly brilliant novel isn’t just an indelible story of the falling dominoes of a family struggling through crisis and through generations, it’s also about the times we live through. . . . This gorgeous story reminds us that love is always, always worth it.”

— Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and With or Without You

“Count the Ways is an extraordinarily generous invitation into a woman’s intimate life, from the loneliness of her youth to the earned wisdom of middle age. In this richly imagined novel, Maynard never flinches as she portrays both quiet successes and heartbreaking failures at love, marriage, and motherhood. This is the work of one of our great storytellers.”

— Meredith Hall, New York Times bestselling author of Beneficence

"Sensitively plumbing the complexity of human emotions, of love and forgiveness, [Maynard] draws readers into a deep, aching attachment to her characters, creating an ultimately hopeful tale just right for this moment."

— Booklist (starred review)

“Readers will sink into Maynard’s masterful portrait of one woman’s life in this decades-spanning family saga.”

— Library Journal (starred review)

“Joyce Maynard has, again, managed to tap flawlessly into the voice of a teenage girl: part hope, part fiction, and all heart. After Her is page-turning mystery, wrapped in a beautifully rendered story of sisterhood; and reading it is a journey through one’s own memory of what it meant to be thirteen, when the world was equally terrifying and fascinating. Books this compelling just don’t come around very often.”

— Jodi Picoult, #1 New York Times bestselling author on After Her

About the Author

A native of New Hampshire, Joyce Maynard began publishing her stories in magazines when she was thirteen years old. She first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story, “An Eighteen Year Old Looks Back on Life”, in 1972, when she was a freshman at Yale. Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in over fifty papers nationwide, a regular contributor to NPR and national magazines including Vogue, The New York Times Magazine, and many more. She is a longtime performer with The Moth.

Joyce Maynard is the author of eighteen books, including the New York Times bestselling novel, Labor Day and To Die For (both adapted for film), Under the Influence and the memoirs, At Home in the World and The Best of Us.

Her latest novel, Count the Ways —the story of a marriage and a divorce, and the children who survived it— was published by William Morrow in July, 2021, and The Bird Hotel (Arcade Publishing) was published May 2, 2023.

She is currently at work on a sequel to Count the Ways, tentatively scheduled for publication in 2024.

Maynard is a fellow of the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. She is the founder of Write by the Lake, a week-long workshop on the art and craft of memoir, held every year since 2001 at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. WEBSITE







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