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5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Read,
This review is from: A Northern Light: A Novel (Paperback)After reading Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, I knew I had to read A Northern Light. As was expected, the book did not disappoint. I absolutely loved it. It was so beautifully written, the characters are so easy to like, and it is hard not to fall into this story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Young Woman Finds Her Voice,
This review is from: A Northern Light: A Novel (Paperback)A Northern Light is the story of a murder. A true-story murder of a beautiful woman named Grace Brown occurring in the fancy Glenmore Hotel in New York City in 1906; a murder that inspired Theodore Dreiser's epic novel, An American Tragedy. That is what the back cover of this book says, though it greatly misleads the curious reader. A Northern Light is really the story of a young woman named Mattie Gokey---a sixteen-year-old girl from a destitute family living on a farm in rural New York---who finds her voice in the world through writing with her beloved words, and her struggle to deal with hardships left for those still on earth after someone dies.
Mathilda Gokey, called Mattie or Matt, does not live a very luxurious or happy life. Mattie's mother has died, leaving her father completely grief-stricken. Mattie's older brother Lawton has left the farm for good, and Mattie's father is left to run a farm and care for four girls. The jobs which were once Lawton's, are now Mattie's; the family often struggles terribly to deal with their lack of money. Mattie tries to make things the best for her younger sisters---Abby, Lou, and Beth. But it still seems like no use.
Mattie dearly wishes hat she could attend college, for she is a very talented writer that loves words---she even picks a word of the day out of the dictionary--and even though she has received a scholarship to Barnard College, her father refuses to allow Mattie to go. It is because he's afraid he will lose just one more family member, for the third time. But even with the scholarship, Mattie does not have enough money for the train fare and tickets. So she decides to work at the Glenmore Hotel for the summer, to earn enough money to go to Barnard College in September.
There, at the Glenmore Hotel, Mattie is unwillingly---and forced unknowingly, at the time---pulled into a ruthless battle of fights and whims with the dead when she makes an unbreakable promise to Grace Brown: she will, without peeking a look at them, burn Grace's many private letters to her beau, the man she came with---Carl Grahm, or Chester Gillette, as Grace lovingly calls him.
Mattie struggles with her own beliefs that everyone should keep the promises they have truly made to the dead, and in Mattie's case, to the murdered Grace Brown, and the intense fear of being caught red-handed with the private letters by those investigating Grace's death, and the search party still scouring the area for Carl's body, which has not yet been found.
In this moving tale of a young sixteen-year-old woman named Mattie Gokey finding her voice, and also learning that not only words can give a voice ringing throughout the world, skilled author Jennifer Donnelly weaves a magnificent story full of romance, history, and suspense, all inspired by and against the complex backdrop of the vicious, famous murder of Grace Brown at the Glenmore Hotel, New York, in 1906. Mattie is an extremely likable protagonist, who misses her mother dearly, and tries to remind herself of her mother by hugging the words her mother loved so dear tight as a thick comfort blanket, but then being taught by real people that words cannot explain all the mysteries and emotions of life.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting!,
This review is from: A Gathering Light (Paperback)I've recently finished this book and was totally absorbed by it. Two stories run on parallel grounds.
Set in the early 1900's, Mattie is a young lady very torn between her dreams of becoming a writer and family related responsibilities. To add to her dilemmas, she falls in love, feeling more and more confused.
Grace is another young lady whose body is found lifeless in the lake by the Glenmore Hotel, where Mattie works.
Both girls' tales entwine and merge in a clever and entertaining combination.
The prose is pictorial and detailed, conveying the surroundings, the characters and their feelings so nicely.
There's a little gem embedded in the beginning of each chapter, which is not numbered but starts off with the introduction of a new word, as part of a game that Mattie and her friend Weaver play every day to strengthen their vocabulary. Each word is irrelevant to the core of the story but there's always the appropriate space for it, a clever touch. I found myself playing along and testing my own vocabulary!
There are many themes in this book: poverty, racism, love, compassion, hope are but a few. The narrative is creative and clever, with very sad and very funny situations too. The sense of humour conveyed by Mattie is remarkable.
When I started it, I had avoided reading the summary on the back cover (a bit revealing I later realised), but I was glad I did, so that the last part of the book took me completely by surprise.
Definitely a timeless novel, I would suggest it for young readers too (15+).
P.S. A little note: "A Gathering Light" and "A Northern Light" are exactly the same book, the second one being the American original title. I was about to buy it when I realised they were the same. Just so you know.
4.0 out of 5 stars A Northern Light,
This review is from: A Northern Light: A Novel (Paperback)"A Gathering Light" is the title of this book in the United Kingdom, but here in North America it is titled "A Northern Light" why the change of title, I have no idea.
I enjoyed this book, it would definitely appeal to fans of "The Word of the Day", and the book's heroine is a word collector named Mattie Gokey.
Mattie Gokey's mother has died from cancer and Mattie is burdened with the chore of raising her sisters while her father struggles to put food on the table. Royal Loomis a good looking neighbour boy has been paying attention to Mattie and helping her out whenever he can and taking her for thrilling rides on his buckboard.
Mattie is an intelligent girl with a gift for words and she is able to express herself with the pen. Her teacher encourages her to write and to finish her high school education and to apply for a college education in New York City. Mattie is accepted into a college, but there is her family to consider, the money to consider and there is Royal Loomis to consider.
In the background of the life of Mattie, there is a murder mystery that adds an extra dimension to the book and makes it an intriguing read.
A delight to read, I loved the word duels between Mattie and her best friend Weaver who is a young intelligent African-American who will not put up with racism and is willing to fight for his rights, which he does numerous times throughout the book.
The book has a funny way of jumping through time that could be confusing to younger readers, but then again this book is not meant for younger readers, so it should not pose a problem.
5.0 out of 5 stars A CLASSIC!!!!,
By A Customer
This review is from: A Northern Light: A Novel (Paperback)BEAUTIFUL WRITING --- METICULOUS RESEARCH --- A GREAT STORY-
LINE -- SUSPENSE -- LOVE -- CHOICES TO BE MADE --- just a wonderful book.
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book! i couldn't put it down!,
5.0 out of 5 stars Not only for young adults...,
Some of the scenes were quite graphic, so it would not be appopriate for some younger readers. "A Northern Light" is among the best young adult books I have ever read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book-Not for Kids,
5.0 out of 5 stars Voice of true independence,
She has to learn on her own what she wants, and not what others want for her to be. This is a truly inspirational book for anyone who is trapped between two worlds.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Northern Light Customer Review,
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A Northern Light: A Novel by Jennifer Donnelly (Paperback - Sept. 15 2004)
CDN$ 11.95 CDN$ 10.76