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A Northern Light
A Northern Light
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
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...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780152053109
ISBN-10: 0152053107
Publication Date: 9/1/2004
Pages: 408
Reading Level: Young Adult
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 161 ratings
Publisher: Harcourt Paperbacks
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

swingsistert avatar reviewed A Northern Light on + 78 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
It's told from a young girl's perspective - and centers around her life growing up and a tragedy at a camp she works at in the upstate New York - set around the same events that inspired Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy. It's meant to be a young adults book (winning the Borders Original Voices Award in 2004), but as an adult I enjoyed it too - Donnelly did a fantastic job with the language of the book!

Any lover of language will appreciate the art!
Doughgirl avatar reviewed A Northern Light on + 138 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
A coming of age story wrapped around a real life mystery from 1906. It's beautifully written. Even though she has a chance to go to college, the main character is an aspiring writer trapped in her life by a promise to her dying mother to take care of her father and siblings. She had a habit of learning a new word every day from her dictionary. I loved how those words played into the storyline. Highly recommended book.
reviewed A Northern Light on + 8 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Although this book is listed as a teen book, I thinks it's more suited for adults or at least very mature teens.
MarciNYC avatar reviewed A Northern Light on
Helpful Score: 5
The murder that inspired Theodore Dreiser to write "An American Tragedy" serves as background to this wonderful young adult novel by Jennifer Donnelly.

Set amongst the Adirondacks in Upstate New York at the turn of the (20th) century, it's a delightful novel about a young girl who discovers that dreams do come true. A little bit of mystery, a bit of history and young romance are woven into this fantastic story that had me reading it cover to cover in one sitting.
sevedra avatar reviewed A Northern Light on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This is the SAME BOOK as A Gathering Light. One is the British title.
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reviewed A Northern Light on + 1141 more book reviews
Sometimes it's hard to write your comments about a book you like. That's what it was like for me with this one. I totally enjoyed the story and the heroine, Mattie. Mattie's experience in the hotel mirror one my own first job but that is where the similarities of our experiences end. Mattie loves to observe people and the lovely Grace Brown stimulates her imagination. She so wants to be a writer but finds herself hindered by a promise she made to her mother as she lay on her death bed. Mattie promised to take care of her father and siblings.

Donnelly bases the story on a real murder - that of Grace Brown, whose death occurred July 11, 1906. Digging into archives and whatever sources she can find, Donnelly weaves a most interesting story with characters the reader can understand. Mattie is a fictional but she could have existed and could have felt the same feelings that are described in this novel. The author found that the more she learned about Grace Brown the more she was drawn to her tragic story. This is a haunting read that makes one want to go back for more. More about Grace Brown. More about Mattie. Maybe there will be more some day. Maybe we'll meet Mattie in another book by this author. There is certainly opportunity to develop a series around this character.
reviewed A Northern Light on + 3 more book reviews
A great book set in rural New York around the turn of the century. The real life mystery the is wound into the story is intriguing as well. Very real characters. A fast and enjoyable read.
reviewed A Northern Light on
Really well written book about a young women who learns that being true to yourself comes with a price and it will take courage to pay it.

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Mattie Gokey (Primary Character)
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