Skip to main content

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly



I'm completely bleary-eyed today because I couldn't put this book down until I finished reading the entire story. The list of awards and praise for this YA novel is almost as long as the actual book, and I can only say that every nomination and word of praise for A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly was well-deserved.

Mattie Gokey is a sixteen-year-old girl in 1906, struggling to balance the needs of her family, where she serves as a surrogate mother after the real mother's death, and her own needs. She wants to go to college, and she's fortunate to have a best friend, a black boy named Weaver, and a new teacher that encourage her desire to learn. She also has a handsome neighbor boy who wants to marry her, which would leave her right beside her father and younger siblings. What does Mattie do? What can Mattie do?

Donnelly provides wonderful descriptions of Mattie's home life, which remind me of the way my own grandparents lived, and the job that Mattie has in the local hotel kitchen and dining room over the summer when Decisions Must Be Made. And all of the supporting characters are so interesting.

As a backdrop to Mattie's life, the true-life death of Grace North is described. Donnelly has Mattie receive a bundle of letters from Grace, a guest at the hotel, just before Grace leaves with her boyfriend on the boat ride that leads to her death. Real excerpts from her letters and those from her lover are contained with the book.

Apparently, I need to read An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, which is based on the death of Grace North, because I found that story almost as fascinating as Mattie's story.

I immediately loaned this book to my mom to read.

My overall personal rating of A Northern Light is an A. And I want more; I want to know what happens in Mattie and Weaver's lives next.

Comments

Elizabeth said…
Agreed; this is a book where I was fully desperate to know what happened to the characters later. Phenomenal book.
I agree completely, Elizabeth. I wish I had written this book!!

Popular posts from this blog

If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor

The May selection for my work book club is Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things (2002). The novel follows various individuals in one neighborhood on a particular day, an ordinary day that ends with a terrible tragedy.

Here's the short set of questions I e-mailed to book club members yesterday, along with my own responses.

Did you have a favorite character, or one that spoke to you the most? Who and why?
The father with the burned hands is the one who stayed with me the most after reading the book.

Did you notice that the day on which the events unfold is actually the same day that Diana, Princess of Wales, died? Does knowing that make any difference in how you see the story? I wouldn't have made the connection if I hadn't just watched some of the coverage of the Royal Wedding. To quote the author, he chose this particular day because his novel is about how ". . .everyday miracles of life and death go unwitnessed in favor of celebrity and sensati…

Current Little Pleasures

Girls' weekend in Omaha with Maya and her friend.

Happy Buddha:  Sweet Orange and Cedar Shower Foam from RITUALS

Time for iced or blended peppermint mochas.

Shopping for little gifts for Maya's Japanese pen pal.  They were matched through their schools, and we're hoping she can stay with us for a few days this summer.

The flock of wild turkeys, foxes, and other assorted wildlife entertaining us this fall.

Thanksgiving plans to visit my sister.

Hallmark Channel's Countdown to Christmas is back!

Current Little Pleasures

Christmas Keepsake Week, July 14-23, filled with Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel.

Sending Christmas (in July) cards with a Peace greeting to some of my favorite people.  Why not??

Scott Tube Free Toilet Paper--nothing to recycle.

Haagen-Dazs Coffee Ice Cream--always!

Baby Driver movie.

Seeing photos from my sisters and niece on Facebook during their Italy trip.  I can't imagine they will want to come back home!

What are your current little pleasures?