Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Northern Light

It is 1906 and Mattie Gokey is trying to learn how to stand up like a man -- even though she’s a sixteen-year-old girl. At her summer job at a resort on Big Moose Lake in the Adirondack mountains, she will earn enough money to make something of her life.

That money could be a dowry to wed the handsome but dull Royal Loomis. It could save her father’s brokeback farm. Or it might buy her a train ticket to New York City and college and a life that she can barely allow herself to imagine.

But Mattie’s worries and plans are cast into a cold light when the drowned body of Grace Brown turns up – a young woman who gave Mattie a packet of love letters, letters that convince Mattie that the drowning was no accident.

Inspired by the sensational Chester Gillette murder case of 1906, which was also the basis for Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy and the film A Place in the Sun, this story evokes novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Little Women, and other classics that hark back to times of lost innocence.

I really loved this book. I listened to it on audio - which really put me into the setting and the voice of Mattie. There is so much to this story. Mattie wants more out of her, she has a knack for writing and is the first one in her family to get a high school diploma. But with her mother gone, her family needs help taking care of their land. Also, lingering in the distance, is the promise that Mattie gave to her mother to stay with the family.

Her dream is to go to New York, to go to college there and study to become a writer.

Enter another dilemma - Royal - a handsome young man that seems to be smitten with her and eventually makes his intentions known that he means to have her for a wife. And who can't fall in love with the most handsome, suave guy around? Is this the life for Mattie though?

I love how there's so much going on, add in the curious love letters and the mystery surrounding a young woman's drowning and you've got a killer novel.

I felt like my head was in the clouds after reading this. I loved the romance, tragedy, and wonderful characters in this novel.

5/5 Roses (Review Icon being worked on!)


  1. I have this book in my TBR pile, I mght just read it when I get back to Fl ^^

    Great review!

  2. This will be my first year at ALA, but I'm really looking forward to it. I'm planning on heading home with lots of stuff (luckily we're driving, so I don't have to mail boxes of books back!) I'm making my husband go with me one day to the exhibits (he got an exhibit only pass) to help me carry stuff around.

  3. I loved this book! Such great YA historical fiction!

  4. this book WAS really good. But I didn't like Royal very much...I thought he was just so shallow. :[

  5. Never read it, but have heard a lot of good things about it! Maybe I'll pick it up. Great review!


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