Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Northern Light (copy)

"No one is a failure who has books." Oops, that's supposed to read, “No one is a failure who has friends.” Wait a minute! Aren't they one in the same!?!

I met a new friend, in yet another book, that I admire and care for deeply this week. Her name is Matilda Gokey, or Mattie, and she lives in the North Woods of New York state. She is 16 and she is 17 for her story travels two separate timelines; one story occurs as she carries out chores on her family’s homestead, and the other story takes place at the Glenmore Inn where she toils as a maid.

While living with the family, Mattie chooses a word for the day from her deceased mother’s prized dictionary. (All stories about Mattie’s time with the family begin with the word of the day separated phonetically in the chapter title.) These words are her salvation as she toils caringly for her three younger sisters and overworked father.

Her time at Glenmore is punctuated by the untimely death of an inn guest. Grace Brown is found at dusk floating on the camp’s lake. She and her friend Carl Grahm, or is it Chester Gillette, took a little skiff out after lunch and haven’t been seen since. Well, that is before Grace’s body turns up.

In these parallel stories, Mattie has made promises to the recently dead. For her mother, she promises to look after the family, and for Grace Brown she promises to burn the letters written between Grace and Chester, oh, I mean Carl. Did you know it was a sin to break a death bed promise? Mattie just knows she will come face-to-face with their ghosts if she does.

Jennifer Donnelly has written an extremely engaging story in A Northern Light. This award winner, for the young adult crowd, is perfect for a mother/daughter book club. Given the daughter is mature and understands the facts of life. Think of this book as a Laura Ingalls story for mature audiences.

If the second story sounds familiar, that is because it is based on the 1906 murder which inspired Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy.

This was one of those books I carried everywhere and didn’t want to put down. Not even when I was called to supper. Now, you know it’s a special friend, when you are willing to pass up food!

Note: This concudes my reading for the Damn Yankee Challenge. Thanks Sage and Ed for the funny! ;D


Suey said...

I loved this book!

Tiffany Norris said...

Thanks for the review! I have heard such good things about this book, and now I really can't wait to read it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review...I loved Laura Ingalls. She is part of my childhood.

Debi said...

Oh, this sounds positively delightful! Thanks!

maggie moran said...

Hi Suey! Glad you liked it and thanks for stopping by. I always enjoy reading new book blogs.

TDN, Dr. Atkinson got me an autographed copy when she came up for a Memphis book festival. I have had it all these years and am just now reading it. Shame!

Deana, Mattie is a great character. She loves books and words; unfortunately, she lacks resources to get her to college to continue. The setting is 1905/06 giving the book a pioneer feel. Her life is less idealic than Laura's b/c of the hardships and loss of her mother.

Debi, I love the true murder mystery weaved into Mattie's life so effortlessly. It was very different from other historicals I have read for this genre.

sage said...

sounds like a good book and you did a wonderful job with the review--suppose I should have come up with some kind of award for Ed's DamnYankee Book Challenge--it was great having someone else particpate in this non-existent parody of a challenge!

And THANK YOU for the pecans!

Diane said...

sounds like a good read!

maggie moran said...

Sage, I love a book challenge even if it is a parody! Rats is one of my favorites so far this year and I wouldn't have read it if not for Ed's DYC. Plus, the vacation detour and the dead rat photos. Glad you are enjoying the 'cans. :D

I think you will like it Diane. :)

Les said...

I've had this on my shelf for several years - ever since I first read The Tea Rose (which I loved). I'll have to move it to my nightstand and get it read before the year's over! Great review. Thanks.

maggie moran said...

Les, I hate that I waited so long to read it! Enjoy! :D

Mo said...

Yeah...sounds like a good one for my participation in the Book Awards Challenge, too - I will have to get my hands on this one.
Great review; thanks for postin' it.

~Becky said...

Thank you SO much for the wonderful pecan treat tin! My kids and I were so excited and it's much bigger and nicer than I would ever have expected. And I love magnolias!! We have a southern magnolia tree in our yard. You are so generous, thank you for making our day.

Booklogged said...

Thanks for this great review, Maggie. I wish I could write as well as you do. I'll keep practicing.

This sounds like a book my 18-yr-old and I would enjoy reading. I have so enjoyed having a teenager who likes to read. We've shared some great books over the years.

maggie moran said...

Mo, I don't think you will be disappointed. There was an audible ah when I finished the last sentence. :)

Rebecca, I'm thrilled you enjoyed the 'cans. I have 5 magnolias in the yard. Three of them are over 125 years. The original owner of our home purchased 12 and the archives in Jackson has the bill of sale. In our yard was 4, the neighboring Episcopal church had two, his daddy had two (in front of twins stairs), the other four were divided amongst his two brothers. Out of the 12, ten are still standing!

Booklogged, I'm sure you tease! :) If it makes any difference, I'm writing to a newspaper audience. I'm really book talking, like one would to a good friend, instead of critiqueing in a straight-up review. If you were doing the same thing, it would be me who would be out of a job! :D

Anonymous said...

Maggie - Nice Mug in the other post. Aren't you cute, even in beige.

I loved A Northern Light. Add Mattie to my list of favorite female protagonist.

Yolanda said...

I must got this book from Paperback Swap. I am so glad to have found your blog.I live in MS 41 of my 43 years the first 36 in Tishomingo County and the last 5 in Oxford so yes I know where Como is and have been there numerous times. We still have family there . I love to read and it is in large part thanks to a librian like you.I now live in Oregon and I have started an online book club if you want to participate. I so enjoy hearing about people from home.

maggie moran said...

Bookie - Thanks! I'll never ubderstand why I waited so long to read it?!? :0

Yolanda - Thanks for stopping by. It's really nice to meet another MS blogger, even though you may be far away blogging. I would love to join your online book discussion, but time is never on my side. If it's all right with you, I would love to monitor and chime in when the mood hits? I'm for shure going to place your blog on the blogroll! :D