When I began A Northern Light, I had no idea what it was about, let alone that it was inspired by a real-life murder. I had recently finished listening to Revolution and since I enjoyed that, I decided to try out another one of Jennifer Donnelly's books. There was an audiobook of this on-hand at my library so I decided to check it out.
This leads me to one of the things I admire about Jennifer Donnelly (and her books) – she has the ability to truly make me interested in the history. And, as a result, I have determined that I actually enjoy historical fiction when a significant amount of authentic history is presented.
It was refreshing wondering which parts were real occurrences or real people and which parts were from her creative mind. I also enjoyed how Grace Brown’s real letters were included.
As for fictional characters in this book, they were wonderful. They each had their own personality and stood out as individuals. I understood and cared for them, even with those with less involvement in the story.
Abby, Lou and Beth, even as members of the same family, were each their own distinct person. Weaver – oh, I loved Weaver. And Emily Wilcox. As for Royal Loomis, at times I hated Royal and at times I liked him, but I understood why he was the way he was.
But the person I appreciated the most was Mattie (which was probably a good thing, being the main character and all). I felt so completely for her – her predicaments and the decisions she had to make. She is caught between what her father and Royal want her future to become and what she wants to do. Through Grace and Grace's letters, she is able to make that decision.
I was especially amused at some of the things she thought, as I have had very similar thoughts as well:
I don’t answer her. I’m not scared, not exactly, but I can’t explain how I feel. Words fail me sometimes. I have read most every on in the Webster’s International Dictionary of the English Language, but I still have trouble making them come when I want them to.
Making up word combinations, which I unintentionally do all the time:
What is the word for that feeling? For knowledge and fear and loss all mixed together? Frisdom? Dreadnaciousness? Malbominance?
Is there a word for that? Feeling scared of what’s to come but eager for it, too? Terricipatation? Joybodenous? Feager? If there is, I mean to find it.
Initially, my first reaction was to give this book 4/4.5 stars, but I was continually thinking about Mattie Gokey and her story. I remember taking “scenic” routes homes, trying to get a little more time to listen. I sat in my driveway determined to finish the current chapter. But what probably the biggest deciding factor was actually dropping off the audiobook and walking straight to pick up a physical copy of the book, in order to aid my writing of this review. Which, by the way, is what I would call my first real review.
To the death, Mathilda Gokey.