How the Light Gets In

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 05 May 2019

Member Reviews

Heartwrenching. Thought-provoking. Stunning. Petersheim’s latest novel is all of these things and more, painting a compelling picture of grief, healing, love, and impossible choices. A poignantly beautiful novel with shades of the Biblical account of Ruth, this is the kind of book that practically demands discussion when finished. Every reader will have their own opinion of the breathtaking twists and turns, but no reader will remain unfazed by the emotions Petersheim explores through the wonderfully layered characters on these pages. A must read for everyone, even those who aren’t fans of Amish/Mennonite fiction. Perfect book club pick as well!
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Honestly, when I finished the book, I didn’t know how to feel. I gave it some time, went back and read the last chapter again, then I felt at a cautious ease. I don’t want to give anything away but the third part of the book into it’s conclusion. left me a bit rattled because of the invested interest the journey takes you on. Despite this, overall it was a beautiful story that delve into grief and working yourself towards finding that affirmation that it’s ok to move forward without feeling guilty.

How the Light Gets In, introduces us to Ruth, who is trying to put her life together after the news of the death of her husband and father in law. Her marriage prior to hearing this news wasn’t the best it could be and now having to mourn what was and could’ve been really have taken it’s toll. At the request of her mother in law, they set out to Wisconsin to bury her husband and temporary reside with a relative to deal with their grief. 

Elam, recluse and shy, found it to be a challenge and a blessing. After the loss of his mother, he found it hard to open his heart to anyone. When his aunt and Ruth extended their stay through the harvest, there was something that drew him to Ruth that he hadn’t felt in a long time. As time passed and Ruth got in a rhythm of living again, she unexpectedly felt something stir within whenever Elam was around. As time started to heal her wounds, a friendship began to blossom between the two. Inspiring each other, Elam helped give her the seeds to plant and grow something in her that made her find a purpose. Then something happens that might change the path she is on like the poem of the fork in the road. Her path will be the determinate of her fate.

Overall, this was a beautifully written book that will definitely have you glued to the pages. This journey of grief led her down a path that she dealt with it in her own way that when you get to the end, you may or may not agree with something major that happens. I’m definitely on the fence with how I feel based on how it ended because I felt a certain way regarding the path of Ruth and Elam and then two things happen that just really make the book stand out. I’m really curious about the feedback on this book. This was one that I couldn’t stop reading and hope you will add this to your tbr list.
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I have such mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, it is a beautifully written story about grief and forgiveness. After her husband and father-in-law are killed overseas, Ruth comes to the US to bury them and live with her mother-in-law to try to heal herself and her two daughters. She is able to take the time to reflect on her marriage. She discovers a lot of truths about her marriage to Chandler and is able to reconcile her feelings on it. The characters were compelling, especially the quiet Elam. They were probably my favorite part of the whole book.

What I struggle with is the direction that the author took in the last third of the book. It just didn't sit well with me. Given everything, I'm not sure I would have chosen the same path that Ruth did. It's kind of hard to explain without giving anything away. I guess I felt a little set up. I didn't care for the twist at all. Overall, I would recommend trying this one out. It's one I think you need to judge for yourself.
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