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2004 – A Northern Light, by Jennifer Donnelly

April 7, 2009

A Northern LightMattie 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.

Post links to reviews of or your thoughts on this book in the comments.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2009 8:10 pm

    I really struggled with this one. I loved Mattie and her literary mind, but I didn’t enjoy much of the other things that went on. I guess I just couldn’t get into it. It did make me want to pick up Dreiser’s work though.

  2. April 28, 2009 10:49 am

    I read and reviewed this one recently:

  3. October 21, 2009 10:12 am

    I loved this one. My review is here:

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