Elizabeth's Reviews > A Gathering Light

A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly
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Jul 15, 09

Read in July, 2009

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Elizabeth At the turn of the 20th century, young Mattie is a farmer's daughter in the Adirondacks. Her mother has died; her big brother has run off, and it's left to Mattie and her younger sisters to help their beleagured father run his farm. Life is a struggle, but Mattie dreams of a scholarship and studying literature in New York. This is frowned on by the menfolk in her family but encouraged by her forward thinking schoolteacher Miss Wilcox, who has problems of her own. Mattie is being courted too by handsome farmer's son Royal Loomis - but they have little in common, although Mattie is highly attracted by his animal magnetism. She has more in common with poor young black boy Weaver, who is hoping to go to the city and study law, and they spend time playing fast riposte mind games.
While working as a servant in a local hotel, one of the guests dies in a tragic boating accident, but before she does, she gives Mattie a bundle of her letters to burn. But Mattie doesn't do that - she reads them, and begins to realise that all is not as it seems.
This is a well written, absorbing, coming of age story with no easy get outs for the characters. It's a page turner, but it's profound at the same time and totally immerses the reader in the life and times that it portrays. Every character is skillfully drawn and becomes vivid in the mind's eye. It's a Carnegie Medal winner and deservedly so.

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