A Northern Light

A Northern Light

Book - 2003
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In 1906, sixteen-year-old Mattie, determined to attend college and be a writer against the wishes of her father and fiance, takes a job at a summer inn where she discovers the truth about the death of a guest.
Publisher: San Diego, Calif. : Harcourt, 2003.
ISBN: 9780152167059
Characteristics: 389 p. ; 22 cm.


From Library Staff

When 16-year-old Mattie's mother dies, she has to forget dreams of going to college to become a writer, and get a job as a waitress in the town hotel, just to help put food on the table. One day a young customer gives her a diary, just before she goes on boat ride with her husband. The next day... Read More »

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Feb 23, 2017

Really enjoyed this book...highly recommend it.

Nov 09, 2013

I thoroughly loved this book. A Northern Light has beautiful characters and interactions that drew me in. I am an avid reader of historical fiction anyway, but Donnelly is especially wonderful. She is so quotable and has these profound moments... I can't find enough of her books to read.

Dec 04, 2011

a young farm girl has to deal with taking over for her mother who tragically died while having the heart of a writer and poet. She is enncourged by some to follow her dream but her family and social standing pressures her to stay. She finally decides her fate after the death of another young woman to whom she never really knew except in a package of letters the stranger asked her to burn before she died.
I found the story compelling and real with good detail and engaging characters.

Nov 25, 2011

Great read!

May 22, 2011

This is a book of a strong teenage girl who find's herself caught between her love, her family, her dream of attending college and becoming a writer and a tragic murder.

Jan 29, 2011

Beautiful, beautiful book about dreams, death, and growing up. Mattie Gokey is a wonderful character, and the story flows smoothly, working very well with a broken up timeline that some authors struggle with. Believable characters, and heartbreakingly true-to-life descriptions of a life in a small community.

Jan 23, 2011

Overall, I liked this book. The chapter titles were clever and the main character was 'okay' -- there were some things I liked (her witty attitude and writer's approach) but some things that I just could stand (her obliviousness, really). This historical fiction stays pretty true to the times... The ending is more than satisfactory and the characters well-crafted.

Aug 04, 2010

I can't remember when I read Northern Light, but I've never forgotten it. It's one of those stories that stay with you long after you read it.

samdog123 Nov 13, 2009

16 year old Mattie Gokey longs to go to New York to college, but the responsibilities of her rural farm life and family make it seem like this will never happen. The background of this novel is a famous murder case that actually happened in New York State in 1906 and which was the basis of Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy. Very well written and try Gap Creek for a similar read.

Aug 22, 2008

One of the best books I've read. Great setting and story.

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meghan Jul 16, 2008

meghan thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


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KHaney Mar 19, 2008

Mattie Gokey, 16, a talented writer, promised her dying mother that she would always take care of her father and younger siblings. She is stuck on a farm, living in near poverty, with no way of escaping, even though she has been accepted at Barnard College. She promises to marry handsome Royal Loomis even though he doesn't appear to love her. Now, Mattie has promised Grace Brown, a guest at the Adirondack summer resort where she works, to burn two bundles of letters. Then, before she can comply, Grace's body is found in the lake, and the young man who was with her disappears, also presumably drowned. This is a breathtaking tale, complex and often earthy, wrapped around a true story. In 1906, Grace Brown was killed by Chester Gillette because she was poor and pregnant, and he hoped to make his fortune by marrying a rich, society girl. Grace's story weaves its way through Mattie's, staying in the background but providing impetus. The protagonist tells her tale through flashback and time shifts from past to present. Readers feel her fears for her friend Weaver-the first freeborn child in his family-when he is beaten for being black and his college savings are stolen, and enjoy their love of words as they engage in language duels. Finally, they'll experience her awakening when she realizes that she cannot live her life for others.


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meghan Jul 16, 2008

Sexual Content: This title contains Sexual Content.


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