A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

>> Friday, January 18, 2013

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harcourt
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 386
Source: Library

The Short Version:
In 1906 young Mattie Gokey is working at a hotel in an upstate New York when the death of a guest leads her to seek the truth about the murder and reevaluate her own dreams along the way.

Why I Read It:
This has been on my TBR list for ages because many people I know have enjoyed it.

The Book:
From the publisher:

Mattie Gokey has a word for everything. She collects words, stores them up as a way of fending off the hard truths of her life, the truths that she can't write down in stories.

The fresh pain of her mother's death. The burden of raising her sisters while her father struggles over his brokeback farm. The mad welter of feelings Mattie has for handsome but dull Royal Loomis, who says he wants to marry her. And the secret dreams that keep her going--visions of finishing high school, going to college in New York City, becoming a writer.
Yet when the drowned body of a young woman turns up at the hotel where Mattie works, all her words are useless. But in the dead woman's letters, Mattie again finds her voice, and a determination to live her own life.

Set in 1906 against the backdrop of the murder that inspired Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy, this coming-of-age novel effortlessly weaves romance, history, and a murder mystery into something moving, and real, and wholly original.

My Thoughts:
I finally picked this one up after it had been on my TBR list for years. After I read and enjoyed Donnelly's adult historical fiction book, The Tea Rose I started hearing my friends tell me how much they'd liked this young adult book of hers. For some reason I hadn't read it but the January Long-Awaited Reads event inspired me to get it from the library.

It's a good combination of historical fiction, murder mystery and coming of age story and I enjoyed it a lot.

Mattie is an easy character to like. She's smart and kind and overwhelmed with responsibility for a girl her age. After her mother's death the day to day running of the household on their farm falls on Mattie's shoulders. At the same time she's being encouraged by her teacher and her own heart's desire to continue her education and go to college in New York City.

I enjoyed Mattie's story and I also enjoyed the mystery of the death of the young drowning victim.

4 stars Rating 4/5


Mari Reads 1/18/2013 4:17 PM  

I read this book awhile ago and remember really enjoying it as well.

Susan 1/18/2013 7:12 PM  

I am looking forward to reading this one. I have it on my shelf, for a few years now because Cath at Read Warbler loved it. I enjoyed your review and I'm hoping I can fit it in this month for the long-awaited reads challenge, too.

I read her other YA, Revolution, and that was a lot of fun, quite good, and had some good Paris history in it.

Charlie 1/19/2013 2:35 AM  

It feels like I read this years and years ago but really it was only 2009. Weird how years fly by book-wise when you're reading a lot. I loved how Mattie's teacher encouraged her to, even if it was in part (I think, I can't remember completely) her teacher's own desire. It wasn't the best book was very good.

Marg 1/19/2013 4:11 AM  

I liked this one, but it is The Winter Rose and then Revolution that are my absolute favourites by Jennifer Donnelly.

I am hoping that it must be nearly time for a new book from her. Most go and check.

Meghan 1/20/2013 2:15 AM  

I really liked this book - I think it was my favorite by Jennifer Donnelly, but they're all worth reading. I prefer the YA to the adult ones. I'm glad you liked it!

SuziQoregon 2/06/2013 9:01 PM  

Mari: I've heard about it for years. Glad I finally read it.

Susan: I'm not sure what took me so long but I'm glad I finally read it. Hope you enjoy it.

Charlie: Yes - you're remembering that right. I liked Mattie's teacher a lot.

Marg: I read The Tea Rose ages ago and loved it. It's been long enough that I'd like to re-read it before moving on to The Winter Rose.

Meghan: I've enjoyed everything of hers I've read so far.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. I read and respond them here although not always right away. If you would prefer an email response let me know.

I do moderate comments on posts older than 14 days in order to control spam. I will approve your legitimate comments as soon as I can.

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