Review Detail

4.4 17
Young Adult Fiction 3669
Overall rating
Writing Style
Reader reviewed by Amy Ward

 just finished a most remarkable and moving book! A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly focuses on Mattie, a sixteen-year-old girl growing up in the Adirondack mountains in the early 1900's. Mattie is very smart and loves to read and write. This is frowned upon by her father, who relies on Mattie to raise her siblings after the death of their mother. Mattie's dream is to go to college. This dream seems as though it may come true after she is accepted into Barnard, a college in New York City. But Mattie doesn't have the money for the train ride there or for room and board. Complications arise in the form of Royal Loomis, a local boy that begins to court Mattie. Mattie gives up her dream of going to college until a tragic event occurs at the Glenmore, a hotel where Mattie works to earn extra money. This event puts everything in Mattie's life into perspective. Will Mattie go to college or give up her dreams forever?

The language and writing in this book is lyrical. It moves seamlessly between past and present. The story is intricately woven together and the characters drawn perfectly. I was rooting for Mattie and her dreams all the way, but the obstacles in her life, i.e. her father and Royal, were also very sympathetic. Mattie's word of the day guided the events of the book just as much as the characters. Even though, at the beginning of the book, I knew what was going to happen, I was still amazed at the twists and turns. I love books that start in the present and go back in time to tell the story. It makes for such an interesting read. I drug this book out over a few weeks, but could have easily finished it in one long day! It is just that good! No wonder it's a Printz Honor Book!
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