Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

From Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey has big dreams but little hope of seeing them come true. Desperate for money, she takes a job at the Glenmore, where hotel guest Grace Brown entrusts her with the task of burning a secret bundle of letters. But when Grace's drowned body is fished from the lake, Mattie discovers that the letters could reveal the grim truth behind a murder.

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


“Right now I want a word that describes the feeling that you get--a cold sick feeling, deep down inside--when you know something is happening that will change you, and you don't want it to, but you can't stop it. And you know, for the first time, for the very first time, that there will now be a before and an after, a was and a will be. And that you will never again quite be the same person you were.”  
- Jennifer Donnelly, A Northern Light

What I like:
Mattie is a strong female character whose love of words and writing made a connection with me. She is a hardworking girl bound by duty, who helps take care of her family. But she does not feel quite satisfied with her current situation. Mattie feels pressure in deciding what it is she really wants out of her life, versus what her father and society tells her she should want. After she begins reading the letters Grace Brown, a guest at the Glenmore hands over to her, Mattie starts to discover that something is not right. And she sets out to further uncover the truth and hopefully bring justice for Grace.

What I did not:
At one point I did think there were possibly too many things happening in the book. It would have been nice if everything had been resolved, but I was not disappointed with how it ended.

Final Thoughts:
A Northern Light is one of my favorite YA Historical Fiction books. It is one that I always keep at the front of my bookshelf. Jennifer Donnelly’s writing is vivid and the story flowed. I thought she did a great job of creating a world with memorable and realistic characters that stuck with me long after the story ended.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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  1. I have never read anything by Jennifer Donnelly. I do love a good historical fiction novel. I just have to be in the mood for one. Added this one to my TBR list!

  2. I'm the same way...I have to be in the mood for one. I hope you enjoy it when you read it Kay :)