Thursday, February 19, 2015
Throw Back Thursday Pick: A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
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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.
My thoughts: I loved this novel. I've spent several summer vacations on Big Moose Lake, so the face that I had actually kayaked on the lake that was the true "scene of the crime" drew me into this novel. What I really loved though, was Mattie's voice, and her struggle with the mundane chores of womenhood in the early 1900's. Girls, we've come a long way. Read what inspired Jennifer Donnelly to create the character of Mattie on her website. It's fascinating to see what inspires an author to craft a story. A Northern Light was a Printz Honor book in 2004. It is a "throwback" that you should definitely revisit and read!