Donnelly, Jennifer. A Northern Light. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2003. 400 pgs.
Synopsis (from BN.com):
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. Based on a true story.
I read this was Jennifer Donnelly's first YA book. Her writing style was so well done. Her characters were well written, and she was able to tell a story in a manner in which both young adult and adult readers can enjoy.
I was pulled in right away to Mattie's world. I felt her heartbreak over the loss of her Mother, her frustration with having to take on adult responsibilities so young, and her desperation to continue her education.
While Mattie was a fictitious character, the death of Grace Brown really did happen. Incorporating the murder as a surrounding event in the life of a girl on the verge of womanhood was an inspired idea because it brings a whole new dynamic to who Grace Brown was. Mattie's struggle over whether or not she should break the promise she made to her Mother, to Grace, and to her family is heartbreaking.
The only complaints I have about the book are its somewhat abrupt ending, and there were some issues with fluidity in regards to the timeline. The book jumps around a bit and was a bit difficult to stay with during the jumps because it wasn't as evident that this was a different time period. Despite the minor criticism, this is a beautifully written and moving book that could appeal to both mothers and daughters.
Word of warning to any moms that might want to read this with her daughter: there are some sexual situations discussed in the book.