Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Donnelly, Jennifer. 2003. A Northern Light. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc.

In 1906, Mattie is determined to get her high school diploma and attend college to become a writer against her father and fiance's wishes. She takes a job at a summer inn where she discovers the truth about the death of a guest. While the story of Mattie is fictional, the events she finds herself surrounded by are based upon real happenings.

Told in flashbacks, you find yourself cheering for Mattie to go to college and pursue her dream of being a writer and at the same time agonizing with her on her new found love with a local boy. Will she marry the handsome Royal Loomis? Or will she come to realize that she cannot live her life for others and go to college?

A Printz Honor Book, A Northern Light evokes a sense of stepping back in time to the turn of the century and is a great find for lovers of historical fiction. I was very satisfied with the story and I think the fact that it centered around real happenings kept me reading -- however, I didn't find it to be a story that just really sucked me in - one of those books where I can't put it down even though I have other things to do. Characters are portrayed in a realistic sense and Jennifer Donnelly doesn't sugar coat the hardships they face. Throughout the book Mattie and her friend, Weaver, have 'word duels' that at times I found distracting, but on the other hand, it does help make the character and Mattie certainly wouldn't be Mattie without her love of the English language.

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