The novel A Northern Light, by Jennifer Donnelly, is based upon the true story of the murder of Grace Brown at Big Moose Lake in 1906. Donnelly makes the events of this eerie tale seem even more relatable with the addition of a character named Mattie Gokey, a high-spirited sixteen-year-old with great dreams, dreams that have very little chance of becoming reality. Needing money, Mattie takes a job at a hotel called the Glenmore where she meets a guest named Grace. Grace asks Mattie to dispose of a bunch of secret letters. When Grace’s body is found in the lake, Mattie learns that the letters are the key to solving the mystery surrounding the death of Grace Brown.
This story is narrated by Mattie, a character who has big plans for her life and who will let nothing stop her from achieving those goals. Her personality and ambition is admirable, and when faced with difficult decisions, Mattie is able to consult both her brain and her heart to find truth in whatever confronts her.
Donnelly creates a character in Mattie that becomes connected to this twisted tale and provides readers with the chance to find the truth in an unsolved murder. The mystery is still whispered about, and the ghost of Grace Brown is said to haunt Big Moose Lake to this day.
Illustrated by Hannah Fuller ('13)