A Northern Light: A Book Review


 A Northern Light

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Summary: It’s 1906, and sixteen year old Mattie Gokey has big dreams of becoming a writer, but being the oldest woman in her family, she has to stay home and help her father and watch her sisters Abby, Lou, and Beth. Attending school only when she can, Mattie still makes it into college with flying colors, and is given a scholarship! Unfortunately, between housing and books, Mattie needs money. Desperate for her thirty dollars, Mattie accepts a job at Glenmore, a {slightly} booming hotel. There, she waits tables and helps in the kitchen. One day, a hotel guest named Grace Brown asks Mattie to burn a stack of letters. Mattie had no idea that the letters would soon become a crucial piece to a puzzling murder. That same day, Grace Brown is pulled from the lake, and she never wakes up. What happened to this young woman? Matties keeps quiet, and silently makes her way through the letters, searching for clues to what could have happened. That’s not the only thing Mattie has to deal with. Her beloved teacher is not who she says she is, Royal Loomis may or may not be flirting with her, and no one understands her love for books and words. Will Mattie make it through her summer at Glenmore?

My Thoughts: Remember how much I loved Jennifer Donnelly’s other book, Revolution, a couple of weeks ago? That same weekend, I was able to snag this book at the library, and I couldn’t wait to dive in! I don’t feel like A Northern Light was as good as Revolution, but it was still solid. Mattie was a complex character, and that is what I love most about Donnelly’s writing! The author really dishes out her characters, and their development is superb. In each chapter, it’s like a new layer of Mattie was revealed, and you could tell she matured throughout the story, all of which effected her decision at the end. As a book lover myself, I was so happy to read about Mattie’s love for books, and I often imagined her reading some classics I’ve read. Another thing? The new word at each chapter was simply brilliant. It tied in with the chapter, not to mention I expanded my vocabulary for my essays in English :) I love her sisters! SO cute, especially Beth. Royal was a pain, and I can’t believe how ignorant he was. Weaver was much nicer and was the stronger character in general. Miss Wilcox {Mattie’s teacher} was pretty cool, too. While reading, I couldn’t keep the time straight. We’re we in the past, or the present? I think if you’ve read the book, you would know what I’m talking about. Although many summaries talk about the Grace Brown murder, it is not that big on an aspect to the story. It was more focused on her relationship with Royal, and her family’s troubles. I could probably count the amount of pages devoted to the mystery on my fingers. Which is too bad, because I was hoping for a good mystery. Anyhoo, Jennifer Donnelly had a great start, but it didn’t carry through to the end.

Pros: Developed and interesting characters.

Cons: Misleading back cover and a confusing plot.

Heads Up: Language and heavy, I repeat, really heavy, on the romance. And, duh, there’s a murder.

Overall: I give it 4 stars {****} for a good historical fiction. I recommend it for ages 14 and up.

To read my review of Revolution, click here.

Did you watch the Grammy’s last night? I am so happy for Adele, as she is one of my favorite singers. I also loved Bruno Mar’s performance in the beginning. Shiny golden suits make me happy :)

Bella :)


4 thoughts on “A Northern Light: A Book Review

  1. […] It’s been a few years since I last read one of Jennifer Donnelly’s YA novels, but even that long of a break couldn’t discount my delight in discovering her newest book, These Shallow Graves, on Goodreads! I couldn’t be happier that Jennifer is returning to her historical fiction work, and I have high hopes for this thriller set in New York during the Gilded Age. {reviews: 1 / 2} […]


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