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A Northern Lightby Jennifer Donnelly
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Winner of the Carnegie Medal
A Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Davis adds to an audiobook oeuvre distinguished by her skill at portraying young heroines with great emotional depth. Here she steps into the character of 16-year-old Mattie Gokey, the determined, likable protagonist of Donnelly's first YA novel, inspired by a 1906 murder in New York state. A gifted student, Mattie has an ear for words and a desire to become a writer. But college — and a writing career — seem out of the question, as Mattie has promised to fulfill her late mother's dying wish: that Mattie never leave her father and younger siblings. The picture brightens when Mattie's family comes to support her dreams and she takes work at a hotel for the summer. However, when a young woman staying at the hotel drowns mysteriously, after secretly entrusting Mattie with a packet of her letters, the summer and Mattie's future take an intriguing turn. With her soft, slightly girlish voice, Davis makes Mattie thoroughly believable. Via Davis's interpretation, listeners will be captivated by Mattie's humor and wit as well as by the conflicted feelings she experiences on the cusp of womanhood. Davis's roster of distinct supporting characters helps anchor the story in its time and place, and the tale's true-crime roots add both suspense and gravity to the proceedings. Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Donnelly has written a gripping coming-of-age-story." USA Today
"A breathtaking tale." School Library Journal
An astonishing and heartbreaking debut--the story of a young woman's coming-of-age and the murder that rocked turn-of-the-century America
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 truth behind a murder.
Set in 1906 against the backdrop of the murder that inspired Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy, Jennifer Donnelly's astonishing debut novel effortlessly weaves romance, history, and a murder mystery into something moving, and real, and wholly original.
Includes a reader's guide and an interview with the author.
About the Author
JENNIFER DONNELLY is the author of a novel for adult readers, The Tea Rose, and a picture book, Humble Pie. For A Northern Light, her first teen novel, she drew on stories she heard from her grandmother while growing up in upstate New York. She now lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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