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
Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey has a word for everything, and big dreams but little hope of seeing them come true. 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. 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 Big Moose Lake, Mattie discovers that the letters could reveal the grim truth behind a murder. Set in 1906 in the Adirondack Mountains, against the backdrop of the murder that inspired Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy, this Printz Honor-winning coming-of-age novel effortlessly weaves romance, history, and a murder mystery into something moving, and real, and wholly original.
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.
With their family home facing foreclosure, seventeen-year-old Clara Estby and her mother, Helga, need to raise a lot of money fast—no easy feat for two women in 1896. Helga wants to tackle the problem with her usual loud and flashy style, while Clara favors a less showy approach. Together they come up with a plan to walk the 4,600 miles from Mica Creek, Washington, to New York City—and if they can do it in only seven months, a publisher has agreed to give them $10,000. Based on the true story of the authors great-aunt and great-grandmother, this is a fast-paced historical adventure that sets the drama of Around the World in Eighty Days against an American backdrop during the time of the suffragist movement, the 1896 presidential campaign, and the changing perception of “a womans place” in society.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Reading Group Guide
Discussion Questions Q> Why is Pa so against Mattie working at the Glenmore Hotel? Do you think he is a good father? Why or why not? Q> Referring to Mattie's promise to her mother, Weaver says, "God took her life and she took yours." Why does he look at the situation that way? What might have been her mother's motives? Do you think Mattie is obliged to keep that promise? What would you advise Mattie when she wonders if it would be all right to alter the promise? Q> Miss Parrish says Mattie's writing is bad. Miss Wilcox says it is a gift. Why are their opinions and subsequent advice about her writing so different? Q> Why does Royal race his horses when Mattie tells him that nothing is more exciting than books? Why does Mattie agree to marry him? Q> Mattie says at the Glenmore she learned "when to tell the truth and when not to." Under what circumstances might it be better not to tell the truth? Q> Why would Grace Brown want the letters destroyed? Shouldn't Mattie tell someone about the letters as soon as Grace's body is fished from the lake? Why doesn't she? Q> Mattie wonders what would happen if characters in books could change their fates. Are there characters in Mattie's story whose fates you'd like to change? Which ones? In what way? Why? How about characters in other favorite stories? Q> Do you think it's possible for Mattie to pursue her love of books without sacrificing the love of another person? Q> Why does Weaver react so violently to the man at the train station when he knows that a similar situation led to his father's death? How else might Weaver have handled the situation? Q> What does Miss Wilcox mean when she says that voice is not just the sound that comes from your throat but the feeling that comes from your words? Q> Weaver wishes there were happy endings in real life. Are there? Q> Why does Mattie finally decide to leave all she knows for a new life in New York?
Copyright © 2004 by Harcourt, Inc.