In 1906, 16 year old aspiring author Mattie Gokey finds herself in the middle of circumstances she couldn’t even imagine in one of her own stories: a possible murder at the Catskills hotel where she is working as a maid. The first time Mattie meets the sad and lonely Grace Brown, she thrusts a handful of letters into the surprised Mattie’s hands just before going boating with her fiancee. The next day, Grace Brown drowned body is found, the fiancee has disappeared, and Mattie has to decide what to do with the incriminating letters. Meanwhile, Mattie’s dream of moving off the mountains and heading to New York to pursue her dream as a “writing woman” grows dimmer and dimmer as her widowed father puts more pressure on her to take care of her many siblings, and a local Lothario urges her to marry him. As Mattie begins to read Grace’s letters and piece together the mystery of her death, she begins to see the danger in letting other make your life decisions for you. Is she brave enough to leave the Catskills and all she have ever known behind? If she doesn’t, she may end up as dead inside as Grace Brown. A 2004 Printz-award honor book, A Northern Light is historical fiction at it’s very best.
2 thoughts on “A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly”
This story was first told by Theodore Dreiser in “An American Tragedy”, based on the true-life 1906 murder of Grace Brown by Chester Gilette. I read “An American Tragedy” in high school thirty years ago and it still has the power to lead me to reread it every ten years or so. I look forward to reading this book.
I LOVE this book! Highly recommended!