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A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
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A Northern Light (original 2003; edition 2004)

by Jennifer Donnelly

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,9981581,903 (4.03)159
Member:Cailiosa
Title:A Northern Light
Authors:Jennifer Donnelly
Info:Graphia (2004), Paperback, 408 pages
Collections:TBR pile (books to read or re-read), Library Loot
Rating:
Tags:Young Adult, historical fiction, murder, mystery, New York

Work details

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly (2003)

  1. 41
    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (AmethystFaerie)
  2. 20
    Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (FutureMrsJoshGroban)
    FutureMrsJoshGroban: Both are excellent stories about strong, intelligent young women desperately trying to leave their difficult home lives behind and get into college and a new life.
  3. 20
    Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Dairy Queen and A Northern Light are both about a young woman doing something unconventional (in Dairy Queen deciding to coach/play football)that leads her to reexamine her family relationships. There was a very similar feel to the two girls' reactions to their fathers and the burdens their rural lives placed on their dreams to do something different.… (more)
  4. 00
    Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (DimitraDaisy)
  5. 00
    An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser (konallis)
    konallis: Also based on the Grace Brown murder case.
  6. 22
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (missmaddie)
    missmaddie: Similar topic - young women from the countryside trying to find romance and their identity.
  7. 00
    Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey (Mareofthesea)
    Mareofthesea: Both are haunting novels about making difficult decisions and trying to break away from what is expected by others.
  8. 00
    A Higher Geometry by Sharelle Byars Moranville (meggyweg)
    meggyweg: Two historical novels about a young girl about to graduate from school, trying to decide between college and marriage.
  9. 00
    Kit's Law by Donna Morrissey (Mareofthesea)
  10. 00
    The Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford (ElaMatisse)
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» See also 159 mentions

English (156)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (158)
Showing 1-5 of 156 (next | show all)
This is a quiet book, and I enjoyed it. It's not particularly memorable, though. I think my favorite part of the book was the word of the day segments. I actually related to Mattie quite a bit, even down to her singling out Captain Wentworth and Colonel Brandon as Austen's best heroes without so much as mentioning Mr. Darcy. If I had met her in real life, there would have been some fist bumping going on. ( )
  AngelClaw | Jul 21, 2016 |
Νομίζω πως μπορώ πλέον να πω πως η Ντόνελι είναι α​πό τις αγαπημένες μου συγγραφείς. Μετά τα τριανταφ​υλλάκια, συνεχίζει να κρατά υψηλό επίπεδο στα βιβλ​ία της. Το Βόρειο Σέλας είναι ένα πολύ ωραίο και κ​αλογραμμένο βιβλίο. Λόγος απλός, ανεπιτήδευτος, όπ​ως σε όλα της τα βιβλία που έχω διαβάσει μέχρι τώρ​α, σε τοποθετεί στην εποχή στην οποία αναφέρεται κ​αι νιώθεις σαν να είσαι κομμάτι της. Η ατμόσφαιρα ​μοιάζει γνώριμη έστω κ αν έχει περάσει ένας αιώνας​, χωρίς όμως να είναι κουραστική και χωρίς προσπάθ​εια για να τη νιώσεις. Η ιστορία της Μάτι αντιπροσ​ωπεύει τη ζωή της γυναίκας στην Αμερική του ​1905, σε μια μικρή κοινωνία με απλούς καθημερινούς ανθ​ρώπους αλλά και γυναίκες που τολμούν να μιλήσουν, ​να ζητήσουν περισσότερα για τις γυναίκες μέσα από ​ ( )
  GeorgiaKo | May 27, 2016 |
A very good story with beautiful writing! ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
A very good story with beautiful writing! ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
I loved that the main character had difficult decisions to make and that people and life felt real; no one was perfect. There were enough details about life in 1906 without any overdescription. I enjoyed Mattie's word-of-the-day chapters, the narration going back and forth in time, and the the way a real murder was entwined into Mattie's story.

Both audio and book form were great. ( )
  Connie-D | Jan 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 156 (next | show all)
Donnelly's novel begins with high drama drawn from history: Grace Brown's body is discovered, and her murder is the framework for this coming-of-age story set in upstate New York in 1906. Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey is a waitress at the Glenmore Hotel when Brown is murdered. As she learns Brown's story, her narrative shifts between the goings-on at the hotel and her previous year at home: her toil at the farm; her relationship with her harsh, remote father; her pain at being forbidden to accept a college scholarship. "Plain and bookish," Mattie wonders if she must give up her dream of writing if she marries. Donnelly adds a crowd of intriguing, well-drawn secondary characters whose stories help Mattie define her own desires and sense of self.
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Epigraph
"And if the many sayings of the wise
Teach of submission I will not submit
But with a spirit all unreconsciled
Flash an unquenched defiance to the stars."

Adelaide Crapsey
Saranac Lake, 1913
Dedication
For Megan, who escaped from the enchanted forest
First words
When summer comes to the North Woods, time slows down.
Quotations
It was one more hard and hopeless thing, and I was tired of hard and hopeless things.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
It's 1906 and 16-year-old Mattie Gokey is at a crossroads in her life. She's escaped the overwhelming responsibilities of helping to run her father's brokedown farm in exchange for a paid summer job as a serving girl at a fancy hotel in the Adirondacks. She's saving as much of her salary as she can, but she's having trouble deciding how she's going to use the money at the end of the summer. Mattie's gift is for writing and she's been accepted to Barnard College in New York City, but she's held back by her sense of responsibility to her family--and by her budding romance with handsome-but-dull Royal Loomis. Royal awakens feelings in Mattie that she doesn't want to ignore, but she can't deny her passion for words and her desire to write.

At the hotel, Mattie gets caught up in the disappearance of a young couple who had gone out together in a rowboat. Mattie spoke with the young woman, Grace Brown, just before the fateful boating trip, when Grace gave her a packet of love letters and asked her to burn them. When Grace is found drowned, Mattie reads the letters and finds that she holds the key to unraveling the girl's death and her beau's mysterious disappearance. Grace Brown's story is a true one (it's the same story told in Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy and in the film adaptation, A Place in the Sun), and author Jennifer Donnelly masterfully interweaves the real-life story with Mattie's, making her seem even more real.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0152053107, Paperback)

It's 1906 and 16-year-old Mattie Gokey is at a crossroads in her life. She's escaped the overwhelming responsibilities of helping to run her father's brokedown farm in exchange for a paid summer job as a serving girl at a fancy hotel in the Adirondacks. She's saving as much of her salary as she can, but she's having trouble deciding how she's going to use the money at the end of the summer. Mattie's gift is for writing and she's been accepted to Barnard College in New York City, but she's held back by her sense of responsibility to her family--and by her budding romance with handsome-but-dull Royal Loomis. Royal awakens feelings in Mattie that she doesn't want to ignore, but she can't deny her passion for words and her desire to write.

At the hotel, Mattie gets caught up in the disappearance of a young couple who had gone out together in a rowboat. Mattie spoke with the young woman, Grace Brown, just before the fateful boating trip, when Grace gave her a packet of love letters and asked her to burn them. When Grace is found drowned, Mattie reads the letters and finds that she holds the key to unraveling the girl's death and her beau's mysterious disappearance. Grace Brown's story is a true one (it's the same story told in Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy and in the film adaptation, A Place in the Sun), and author Jennifer Donnelly masterfully interweaves the real-life story with Mattie's, making her seem even more real.

Mattie's frank voice reveals much about poverty, racism, and feminism at the turn of the twentieth century. She witnesses illness and death at a range far closer than most teens do today, and she's there when her best friend Minnie gives birth to twins. Mattie describes Minnie's harrowing labor with gut-wrenching clarity, and a visit with Minnie and the twins a few weeks later dispels any romance from the reality of young motherhood (and marriage). Overall, readers will get a taste of how bitter--and how sweet--ordinary life in the early 1900s could be. Despite the wide variety of troubles Mattie describes, the book never feels melodramatic, just heartbreakingly real. (14 and older) --Jennifer Lindsay

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:31 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

In 1906, sixteen-year-old Mattie, determined to attend college and be a writer against the wishes of her father and fiance, takes a job at a summer inn where she discovers the truth about the death of a guest. Based on a true story.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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