A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

July 29, 2011
Custom User Avatar
More by this author
It’s 1906. Mattie’s Pa, and everyone else, expects her to get married and settle down. Mattie can’t stand the idea. Her ambition is to attend college in New York and become a writer. She could do it, too. She’s worked hard and earned a scholarship. There are so many things in the way, though. Her obligations at home, her lack of money, and the least expected of all…the handsome Royal Loomis. She wants to marry him, but if she chooses Royal, her dreams of going to college would disappear.

Her Pa finally lets her work at one of the summer resorts to earn money, and each week she saves a little more. Now all that’s holding Mattie back is fear of losing the love in her life. Not to mention a promise that she made to her Ma on her death bed. While still trying to decide between books and love, Mattie discovers that Royal only wants her for her Pa’s land. She is heartbroken, but marrying him would still be the safe option. And besides, she still is held back by the promise she made to her Ma to take care of her younger sisters.

The summer is ending. Mattie is almost resigned to her fate, when a young woman at the resort hands her a bundle of letters and asks her to burn them. The next day, the woman’s body is found in the lake. Mattie is the only one who can prove the woman was murdered, and her letters are the only things that can prove to Mattie that sometimes it’s better to break a promise, than let a promise break you.

A Northern Light alternates between the story leading up to when Mattie reads the first letter, and ‘present day’ when she is already reading the letters and finding out about their owner’s death. Because we see glimpses of what will happen after Mattie reads the letters, there are some things that we know will happen, and won’t come as much of a surprise. But this works well with the story, making us anticipate what will happen next. It’s a thrilling story that weaves multiple plots into one, and leaves the reader satisfied.

I would definitely recommend this book. Although, as a warning: for many reasons, this book is for a more mature reader.

Join the Discussion

This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

renthead96 said...
Aug. 8, 2011 at 11:25 am
Well done writing this review. It is intriguing, and I'm actually thinking of looking into reading this book after reading this review. However, I have to suggest not to give away too much of the story plot. It seems to me that a little too much information about the story is given here. Otherwise this review is interesting, and it makes the reader want to read the book. Great job!
tealbird said...
Aug. 8, 2011 at 11:24 am
Great work. It's very informative without giving too much away, and I kind of think telling a bit of the plot intrigues more people to read it. This is definitely on my list!
Love.Hate.Passion. said...
Aug. 3, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Awesome review :)

It makes me want to go find this book and read it.

May I suggest something?


Try not to give out too much of the plot.


Good Job!

M.Trainor replied...
Aug. 5, 2011 at 12:47 pm
Thanks for the advice : )
Healing_Angel This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 3, 2011 at 12:04 am
Good review: to the point and engaging. Good work....
M.Trainor replied...
Aug. 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm
Thanks for reading : )
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback