Book Review: Where the Light Gets In by Zoe Coyle

About the Book:

Delphi Hoffman, a wild child living in London, is finally getting her life together with a new love affair and the offer of a coveted job – until she receives the phone call she hoped would never arrive.

‘It’s time.’

Her mother Vivian’s terminal illness has reached its tipping point and she summons Delphi to Australia to help her euthanise. Unable to deny her mother’s suffering, or her promise to her of a good death, Delphi reluctantly returns to her mother for the last time.

This is a story of the ties of family that enmesh in love and death, and the journey back to self in its aftermath. As Delphi is blown onto the wasteland of grief and shame, she has to discover where her mother’s life ends and she begins amidst the atomic fallout her actions have unleashed.

Incandescent and extraordinary, Where the Light Gets In heralds the arrival of a powerful new voice in Australian fiction.

Published by Ultimo Press

Released April 2022

My Thoughts:

A stunning debut that mines the lines of trauma and grief that settle into your heart and shape the person you become. Not only is this a novel of euthanasia, loss, and grief, it’s also a coming-of-age journey that never failed to surprise me with each new direction it took.

‘Grief can build a cathedral inside us. A place of immense wisdom and empathy, of perspective and gratitude.’


‘Just because someone breaks your heart doesn’t mean you can stop loving them. Just because someone doesn’t deserve your love doesn’t mean you won’t love them.’


‘Family aren’t just the people you’re related to by blood, and the sun isn’t just up in the sky.’


‘Michelangelo said that in every block of marble he plainly saw a statue fully formed. His only job was to chip away the rough imprisoning walls to reveal the loveliness within. Delphi knows this to be a powerful metaphor for life. Isn’t that what we humans all do? Chip away at our own sorrows, angers and shames, exposing imperfections and mortal fears in the hope that this exertion will reveal our most radiant selves?’

This novel really doesn’t hold back in terms of both the emotion it rings out of you and the language that it uses relating to death and its aftermath. There was an impactful parallel drawn within the text relating to the ease in which an animal can be euthanised to prevent suffering as opposed to a human. This is a thought-provoking novel that will give the reader much to contemplate. As a debut, it is strikingly impressive, and I highly recommended it.


Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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