It’s the summer of 1906 and Mattie Gokey has escaped her life on her family’s struggling farm for a paid summer job at a fancy Adirondack hotel on the shores of Big Moose Lake. Torn between following her dreams of being a writer and leaving for Barnard College in New York City, and her feelings of responsibility toward her family and budding romance with the handsome Royal Loomis, Mattie spends the hot summer serving the patrons of the hotel in silent contemplation.
But Mattie’s thoughts are turned upside down when a couple staying at the hotel goes missing and when the young woman, ultimately, turns up dead. The same young woman who urgently pressed a packet of letters into Mattie’s keeping only a short time before.
Left with resounding questions about life, death, and the future, Mattie begins to read the letters and slowly understands the fate of the young woman and realizes what Mattie wants for her own life.
Based around the real-world murder of Grace Brown, Jennifer Donnelly creates an unparalleled coming of age story. If you like A Northern Light, try Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen or The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, all available at the Virginia Beach Public Library.