Jennifer Donnelly was inspired by the 1906 murder of a young woman in the Adirondacks. The murder of Grace Brown was so well known it inspired Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy. Young Mattie Gokey provides the reader with a glimpse into the hard life of the North Woods. Having lived there for three years myself, I often found myself visually some the well known camps, lakes, and rivers. The story shifts between the present where Mattie is employed at the well known Glenmore Inn and flashbacks to her life on the farm with her father and her sisters.
I found myself cheering Mattie on, remembering through her 16 year old eyes my fondness for books, my dreams, and my fears. The novel has tons of memorable characters, numerous references to literary characters and trends of the time, and the strict cultural constraints felt by the women of that era.
So grab a copy of A Northern Light and enjoy your holiday in the North Country.