Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

This was a pretty good book. Very feminist and a murder mystery. I rarely read mystery and steer away from murder stories. This book was based on an actual murder of Grace Brown in the North Woods of Maine in 1906. It is in the voice of a young girl named Mattie and she loves words.

I love this part of the book. She has a word for each day. She then finds a way to use it despite it being abstract or super long and almost unpronounceable. She has a hard life. She is only 16 yet has to do the tasks of an adult because her mother passed away. The farm and her siblings need looking after but finds time to write and learn new words.

She has a wonderful school teacher that goes out of her way to help her academically and inspire her to see further then just living on a farm the rest of her life.
I love how the author writes about the quirky realities of woman's roles at the turn of the century. Mattie works at a resort to earn extra money during the summer, there is a nasty pervert man that all the waitresses can't stand. They can't tell on him because then they would loose their jobs or be forced to quit. They all take advantage of the opportunity to earn extra money in tips by putting up with him. Yuck! When they get back at him later he can't tell anyone either. Too weird too funny and I am glad I don't have to deal with such things.

There is a young black character who is bold and smart. He has his own problems to deal with and the consequences to face. I really like his spunk. He doesn't let his color hold him back.

There is also a family with so many children. They are poor and hungry. I felt so sorry for them. And as the story unfolds even more sorry for the position their mom puts them in. Mattie helps them whenever she can.

Mattie also has to decide about marriage. AND the same old question comes up, does he really love her or is it a marriage of convenience? Young people can be so wooed by passion. Everyone wants someone to love and to feel special. Mattie is no exception.

The murder part of the story is bizarre yet intriguing. It was a story all in itself and I liked the parts that didn't have anything to do with this story best. There is a great lesson to be learned from the dead girls life so because of that I'm glad it was in the "story" even though it was supposed to be the story.

Broken Book, Healing Book

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