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A Northern Lightby Jennifer Donnelly
Synopses & Reviews
With their farm in Mica Creek, Washington facing foreclosure, seventeen-year-old Clara Estby and her mother, Helga, need to find a way to raise a lot of money in a short time--no easy feat for two women in 1896. Helga wants to tackle the problem with her usual loud and flashy style, while Clara, the oldest of the eight Estby children, favors a less showy approach. Though very different in personality, mother and daughter share a determination to save their family's home, so they come up with a plan to walk the 4,600 miles from Mica Creek to New York City--and if they can do it in only eight months, a New York City publisher has agreed to give them $10,000. They set out with little more than ten dollars, two ponchos, and a gun. Along the way they go through sixteen pairs of shoes each, fend off snakes and highwaymen, and narrowly escape a flash flood. But they also meet the governor of every state they pass through and the wife of presidential-candidate, William Jennings Bryan, as well as shake hands with the new president himself, William McKinley. And with each new challenge they face, Clara and Helga come to rely on and respect one another for the very traits that make them so different. Based on the true story of the author's great aunt and great-great grandmother, this is a fast-paced historical fiction adventure for 10-14 year-olds that sets the drama of Around the World In 80 Days against an American backdrop during the time of the suffragist movement, the 1896 presidential campaign, and the changing perception of "a woman's place" in society.
"Grade 8 Up...This is a breathtaking tale, complex and often earthy, wrapped around a true story....An outstanding choice for historical-fiction fans, particularly those who have read Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy." Booklist
"While tighter writing would have enhanced the work, this is nevertheless an absorbing story that will appeal strongly to the growing number of historical fiction fans." Kirkus Reviews
"Donnelly has populated her first young-adult novel with a community of distinctive characters who ring rich and true....We don't jut root for Mattie; we come to understand and cherish her." New York Times Book Review
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, real, and wholly original.
Jennifer Donnelly's astonishing, Printz Honor-winning debut--the story of a young woman's coming-of-age and the murder that rocked turn-of-the-century America.
In 1867, Verity Boone returns to her hometown, Catawissa, Pennsylvania, to marry a man she has never met. When she finds out that her mother's grave is in an iron cage outside the cemetery, she tries to get an explanation, unleashing violence and eventually revealing family secrets, including murder.
The year is 1867, and seventeen-year-old Verity Boone is excited to return from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, the hometown she left when she was just a baby. Now she will finally meet the fiancé she knows only through letters! Soon, however, she discovers two strangely caged graves . . . and learns that one of them is her own mothers. Verity swears shell get to the bottom of why her mother was buried in “unhallowed ground” in this suspenseful teen mystery that swirls with rumors of witchcraft, buried gold from the days of the War of Independence, and even more shocking family secrets.
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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