Friday, August 3, 2012

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

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.


Jennifer Donnelly became a favorite author of mine when I read Revolution and she delivered again with A Northern Light.  A wonderful coming of age book that I couldn't put down.  Any book that involves books in the story is a bonus too.  Through the voice of Mattie I just couldn't help but feel for her and what life has delivered her.  Set in 1906 women really didn't have much of a say in the direction their life would take.  Add a mother's death, younger siblings, dreams that she was fighting to keep alive, plus throw in a possible murder mystery and what do you get?  A book that kept me up and never wanting it to end, in fact I wish there was a sequel, that's how sad I was to see it end.

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