A Northern Light - Jennifer Donnelly

Title: A Northern Light
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 408
My Copy: Hardback
Source: Public Library

Report Card
Characters A-
Plot A

Setting B+


First off is Mattie Gokey, our protag. She's brilliant, especially for a young woman of the time who hadn't had much formal education. She's bright and thoughtful and intensely driven. She's also strong and selfless. And those two characteristics don't always go together. So she's torn. Does she go off to college and get the education she's always wanted and worked for and deserved? Or does she stay back with the family who doesn't want her to go and marry and have the quiet little life that she thinks she's meant to have? This is what really drives the character.
Beyond Mattie, there is a wide variety of characters that make this story come to life. Weaver, who is every bit as brilliant as and possibly more driven than Mattie but is the wrong character. There's Cook, who's a tough boss but has a soft spot when needed. Mattie's sisters who are so wildly different from each other. Royal, who I'm guessing is the equivalent to the golden boy nowadays. Miss Wilcox who did everything she could for Mattie to help her along to college, who wrote no matter what her husband or society thought of it.

So many wonderful characters!


As mentioned above, there's the main plot about Mattie and whether or not she'll go to college. But better than that was the mystery of Grace and Chester/Carl. Immediately I knew something was fishy about it, but the letters were so well done and spaced throughout the book that it helped things along. It definitely added something to the story.


I can't say that I really liked the setting, but then this isn't my usual story either. It isn't a fantasy in a faraway land. This is real life. I think the characters told more about the setting than any description could have and I think I liked it better that way.


Review in a word: Poignant