Title: A Northern Light

Author: Jennifer Donnelly

Publisher: Graphia

Page Count: 408

ISBN #: 0152053107

Publication Date: 2004


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 asks her to burn a bundle of secret letters. But when Grace’s drowned body is fished from the lake, Mattie discovers the letters reveal the grim truth behind a murder.


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Thoughts on the book:

One of the struggles Mattie is faced with is how to live her dreams without feeling as though she is betraying her family. Her mother’s death put her in charge of the household, and with that there is a lifetime of work, little time for anything else. On her mother’s death bed she begged Mattie to always take care of her sisters and father. Mattie is torn between loyalty and longing. Her father doesn’t help matters because he believes his children should stay and work the family’s land. After a fierce battle with the father, the oldest brother, angry and tired, walks out on the family without looking back. Mattie resents this abandonment, but family pressure and demand can be a heavy burden to bear.

A question that kept coming to mind was:

Should a family member give up individual dreams to hold a family together?

Favorite quote:
“A hawk’s work, I thought, wondering if the robin had seen the brilliant blue of the sky and felt the sun on its back before its wings were broken.”
–Jennifer Donnelly¬†A Northern light

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