A Northern Light (Jennifer Donnelly)

Time completed: 1:00 a.m. 

Date completed: 2/28/2011

Days to read: 3


The biggest clue to how much I adored this book should be the fact that I immediately grabbed my laptop (the ever finnicky, Jayne) to write this Thoughts post.

There are books in the world that make me want to read more, to give up sleep and food and friends and my job just to spend every breathing moment of my life reading books.  Of course, if I did this my life would only last about three days before I starved to death or died of thirst or possibly sleep deprivation. And it probably wouldn’t even be that great because towards the end I’d go crazy, but darn it, I would still do it.  There are books that make me want to give into this intense reading urge.

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly is one such book.

It was described to me as a “historical fiction with a feminist beat” and I won’t even try to say that better. This story was wonderfully immersed in its history; the characters were alive and complicated by their circumstances; and the ending was happy & sad all at once. Is there a word for that? for feeling happy & sad, hope & despair, all at the same time? (If I were Mattie, I’d make up a word for this, but I’m too sleepy to try that right now.)

Jennifer Donnelly & Mattie’s tale was inspired by novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser.*  But more importantly, Mattie’s tale was inspired by Grace Brown, and her tragic & too short life. Mattie is a young woman who finds her voice when Grace Brown’s is silenced, and she is a reminder that we must always carry home with us, even if it’s not the most beautiful place on earth.

A Must Read. 

* Two WGCC comrades, Laura and Rachel, both have exceptionally negative opinions about Mr. Dreiser, their negativity only makes me want to read An American Tragedy more. I’m also that kind of book reader.  (The kind that reads books that her friends, whose book opinions she values highly, hated.)