A Northern Light ~ by Jennifer Donnelly. Summary: Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey has big dreams but little hope of seeing them come true. Desperate for money. A Northern Light pdf by J. Donnelly Tags: a northern light by jennifer donnelly summary, a northern light sparknote. Editorial Reviews. tvnovellas.info Review. It's and year-old Mattie Gokey is at a tvnovellas.info: A Northern Light eBook: Jennifer Donnelly: Kindle Store.
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We promise. Jennifer Donnelly is the author of ten novels - These Shallow Graves, Sea Spell, Dark Tide, Rogue Wave, Deep Blue, Revolution, A Northern Light. fj3ir35 - Get A Northern Light book by Jennifer Donnelly. Full supports all version of your device, includes PDF, ePub and Kindle version. All books format are. regions they serve. The North Country Reads book selection, Jennifer Donnelly's A. Northern Light, is a coming of age story set against the backdrop of the.
And some days it stops altogether. The sky, gray and lowering for much of the year, becomes an ocean of blue, so vast and brilliant you can't help but stop what you're doing-pinning wet sheets to the line maybe, or shucking a bushel of corn on the back steps-to stare up at it. Locusts whir in the birches, coaxing you out of the sun and under the boughs, and the heat stills the air, heavy and sweet with the scent of balsam. As I stand here on the porch of the Glenmore, the finest hotel on all of Big Moose Lake, I tell myself that today-Thursday, July 12, is such a day. Time has stopped, and the beauty and calm of this perfect afternoon will never end. The guests up from New York, all in their summer whites, will play croquet on the lawn forever.
Cook fusses me away from the body. She folds Grace Brown's hands over her chest and closes her eyes. And sandwiches," she tells the men. Hennessey, if that's all right," Mr. Soon as Sperry gets the sheriff on the phone.
He's calling Martin's, too. To tell 'em to keep an eye out.
And Higby's and the other camps. Just in case Grahm made it to shore and got lost in the woods. It's Chester. Chester Gillette. They are all looking at me now-Cook, Mr. Morrison, and Mr. I heard her call him that, I guess," I stammer, suddenly afraid. Cook's eyes narrow.
Do you know something you should tell us? Too much. What did I know? Only that knowledge carries a damned high price. Miss Wilcox, my teacher, had taught me so much. Why had she never taught me that? She has the lungs for it. It was a spring morning.
End of March. Not quite four months ago, though it seems much longer. We were late for school and there were still chores to do before we left, but Beth didn't care. She just sat there ignoring the cornmeal mush I'd made her, bellowing like some opera singer up from Utica to perform at one of the hotels. Only no opera singer ever sang "Hurry Up, Harry. So it's hurry up, Harry, and Tom or Dick or Joe, And you may take the pail, boys, and for the water go. In the middle of the splashing, the cook will dinner cry, And you'd ought to see them hurry up for fear they'd lose their pie She didn't mind me, though, for she wasn't singing her song to me or to any of us.
She was singing to the motionless rocker near the stove and the battered fishing creel hanging by the shed door. She was singing to fill all the empty places in our house, to chase away the silence. Most mornings I didn't mind her noise, but that morning I had to talk to Pa about something, something very important, and I was all nerves.
I wanted it peaceful for once. I wanted Pa to find everything in order and everyone behaving when he came in, so he would be peaceable himself and well-disposed to what I had to say. There's blackstrap molasses, squaw buns as hard as rock, Tea that's boiled in an old tin pail and smells just like your sock. The beans they are sour, and the porridge thick as dough- When we have stashed this in our craw, it's to the woods we go The kitchen door banged open and Lou, all of eleven, passed behind the table with a bucket of milk.
She'd forgotten to take off her boots and was tracking manure across the floor. Mind your boots! I can't hardly hear you, Matt," Lou said.
Beth squealed and wriggled and threw herself back against the chair. The chair went over and hit Lou's bucket. The milk and Beth went all over the floor. Then Beth was bawling and Lou was shouting and I was wishing for my mother. As I do every day. A hundred times at least. When Mamma was alive, she could make breakfast for seven people, hear our lessons, patch Pa's trousers, pack our dinner pails, start the milk to clabbering, and roll out a piecrust.
All at the same time and without ever raising her voice. I'm lucky if I can keep the mush from burning and Lou and Beth from slaughtering each other. Abby, fourteen, came in cradling four brown eggs in her apron. She carefully put them in a bowl inside the pie safe, then stared at the scene before her. He'll be in shortly," she said. You'll get a double tanning.
She started to wail all over again. Both of you! Go get Barney. Pa's old hunting dog is lame and blind. He pees his bed. Uncle Vernon says Pa ought to take him out behind the barn and shoot him.
Pa says he'd rather shoot Uncle Vernon. Lou stood Barney by the puddle.
He couldn't see the milk, but he could smell it, and he lapped it up greedily. He hadn't tasted milk for ages. Neither had we. The cows are dry over the winter. One had just freshened, though, so there was a little bit of milk for the first time in months. More were due soon. By the end of May, the barn would be full of calves and Pa would be off early every morning making deliveries of milk, cream, and butter to the hotels and camps.
But this morning, that one bucket was all we'd had for a long while and he was no doubt expecting to see some of it on his mush. Barney got most of the milk cleaned up. What little he left, Abby got with a rag. Beth looked a little soggy, and the linoleum under her chair looked cleaner than it did elsewhere, but I just hoped Pa wouldn't notice. There was an inch or two left in the bucket.
I added a bit of water to it and poured it into a jug that I set by his bowl. He'd be expecting a nice milk gravy for supper, or maybe a custard, since the hens had given four eggs, but I'd worry about that later. Is Barney going to tell him?
Mamma wouldn't like it," I said.
She didn't even cry at Mamma's funeral, though I found her in Pa's bedroom a few days after, holding a tin likeness of our mother so hard that the edges had cut her hand.
Our Abby is a sprigged dress that has been washed and turned wrong side out to dry, with all its color hidden. Our Lou is anything but. As the two of them continued to snipe, we heard footsteps in the shed off the back of the kitchen. The bickering stopped. We thought it was Pa. But then we heard a knock and a shuffle, and knew it was only Tommy Hubbard, the neighbor boy, hungry again. Wash your hands first. Tommy has six brothers and sisters.
They live on the Uncas Road, same as us, but farther up, in a shabby plank house. Their land divides ours from the Loomis's land on one side, notching in from the road.
They have no pa or they have lots of pas, depending on who you listen to. Emmie, Tommy's mother, does the best she can cleaning rooms at the hotels, and selling the little paintings she makes to the tourists, but it isn't enough. Her kids are always hungry. Her house is cold. She can't pay her taxes.
Tommy came inside. He had one of his sisters by the hand. My eyes darted between them. Pa hadn't eaten yet and there wasn't so much left in the pot. The shirttails touched the floor. The dress barely made it past her knees. Tommy had no overclothes on at all. There's plenty," I said. I'm sick to death of this damned slop," Lou said, pushing her bowl across the table. Her kindnesses often took a roundabout path. Abby looked as if she'd like to slap her.
Luckily, the table was between them. Everyone was sick of cornmeal mush. Myself included. We'd been eating it with maple sugar for breakfast and dinner for weeks. And for supper, buckwheat pancakes with the last of fall's stewed apples. Or pea soup made with an old ham bone that had been boiled white.
We would have loved some corned beef hash or chicken and biscuits, but most everything we'd put in the root cellar in September was gone. We'd eaten the last of the venison in January. The ham and bacon, too. And though we'd put up two barrels of fresh pork, one of them had spoiled.
It was my fault. Pa said I hadn't put enough salt in the brine. We'd killed one of our roosters back in the fall, and four hens since. We only had ten birds left, and Pa didn't want to touch them as they provided us with a few eggs now and would make us more eggs-and chickens, too-come summer. It wasn't like this when Mamma was alive. Somehow she provided good meals all through the winter and still managed to have meat left in the cellar come spring.
I am nowhere near as capable as my mother was, and if I ever forget it, I have Lou to remind me. Or Pa.
Not that he says the sorts of things Lou does, but you can tell by the look on his face when he sits down to eat that he isn't fond of mush day in and day out. Jenny Hubbard didn't mind it, though. She waited patiently, her eyes large and solemn, as I sprinkled maple sugar on Lou's leavings and passed the bowl to her.
I gave Tom some from the pot. As much as I could spare while still leaving enough for Pa. Abby took a swallow of her tea, then looked at me over the top of the cup. I was standing behind Lou, teasing the rats out of her hair. It was too short for braids; it only just grazed her jaw. She'd cut it off with Mamma's sewing scissors after Christmas. Right after our brother, Lawton, left. Finish your breakfast," I said. Talk about what? That started another round of bickering. My nerves were grated down bald.
Abby, our peacemaker. Gentle and mild. More like our mother than any of the rest of us. Can I pick it? Can I? She scrambled out of her chair and raced into the parlor. I kept my precious dictionary there, out of harm's way, along with the books I borrowed from Charlie Eckler and Miss Wilcox, and my mother's Waverly Editions of Best Loved American Classics, and some ancient copies of Peterson's Magazine that my aunt Josie had given us because, as it said in its "Publisher's Corner," it was "one of the few periodicals fit for families where there are daughters.
Any, Lou. Any part," I snapped. Her carelessness with words made me angrier than her dirty mouth and the filthy state of her coveralls and the manure she'd tracked in, combined.
Beth returned to the kitchen table, carrying the dictionary as if it were made of gold. It might as well have been. It weighed as much. Spell it," I said. A new word. Jimmy shakes his head. Thats a crime. They shouldnt do that to a kid.
Its child abuse. You want I should report em? Could you? Its taken care of. I got friends in the police department, he says with a meaningful nod.
Yeah, I think. Dick Tracyll get right on it. I pack up my stuff. My feet are frozen. Ive been out here for hours. Its two-thirty now. Half an hour until my lesson. Theres one thing and one thing only that can get me into my school: Nathan Goldfarb, head of St.
Anselms music department. Hey, kid, Jimmy says as I stand up to leave. He fishes a quarter out of his pocket. Get an egg cream. One for you and one for your fella. Come on, Jimmy. I cant take that. Jimmy doesnt have much. He lives in a home on Hicks Street.
He only gets a few dollars spending money each week. Take it. I want you to. Youre a kid. You should be sitting at a soda fountain with a sweetheart, not hanging out in the cold like you got nowhere to go, talking to bums like me.
All right. Thanks, I say, trying to smile. It kills me to take his money, but not taking it would kill him. Jimmy smiles back. Let him give you a kiss. For me. He holds up a finger. Just one.
On the cheek. Ill do that, I say. I dont have the heart to tell him Ive had a dozen fellas. Or that there are no such things as kisses on the cheek anymore. Were in the twenty-first century now, and its hook up or shut up.
I stretch out my hand to take the quarter. Jimmy lets out a low whistle. Your hand. I look at it. My ripped nail is still bleeding. I wipe the red off on my pants. You should get it taken care of.
It looks awful, he says. I guess it does. You must be in pain, kid. Does it hurt? I nod. Yeah, Jimmy. All the time. I stop, then slowly turn around in the hallway. I know that voice. Everyone at St. Anselms does. Its Adelaide Beezemeyer, the headmistress. Do you have a minute? Not really, Ms. Im on my way to a music lesson. Ill call Mr. Goldfarb to let him know youll be late. My office, please. She waves me inside and calls Nathan. I put my guitar case down and sit.
The clock on the wall says An entire precious minute of my lesson has just slipped away. Sixty seconds of music Ill never get back. My leg starts jiggling. I press down on my knee to stop it. Chamomile tea? Beezie asks as she puts the phone down.
Ive just made a pot. I see a folder on her desk. It has my name on itDiandra Xenia Alpers. After both grandmothers. I changed it to Andi as soon as I could speak. I look away from the folderit cant be goodand watch Beezie as she bustles about. She looks like a hobbitshort and shaggy. She wears Birkenstocks no matter what time of year it is, and purple menopause clothes. She turns unexpectedly and sees me watching, so I look around the room.
There are vases on the windowsill, hanging planters dangling from the ceiling, bowls on a sideboardall glazed in various shades of mud. Do you like them? Theyre really something. Theyre mine. I throw pots. So does my mom. At the walls.
Theyre my creative outlet, she adds. My art. I point at a planter. That one reminds me of Guernica. Beezie smiles. She beams. Does it really? Of course not. The smile slides off her face, hits the floor, and shatters. Surely shell throw me out of here now. I would. But she doesnt. She puts a mug of tea on her desk and sits down in her chair. I look at the clock again. My foot jiggles harder. Andi, Ill come right to the point. Im concerned, she says, opening my folder. Winter break begins tomorrow, and you havent submitted any college applications.
Not one. You havent submitted an outline for your senior thesis, either. I see here that youve chosen a subject. For the six-string, I say. Other composers wrote for lutes, mandolins, vihuelas, and baroques. Interesting, Beezie says.
I like the title. Whos Your Daddy? Vijay came up with it. He said my old titleAmad Malherbeaus Musical Legacywas nowhere near pretentious enough. Beezie ignores that.
She puts the folder down and looks at me. Why no progress? Because I dont care anymore, Ms. Beezemeyer, I want to say. Not about Amad Malherbeau, my classes, college, or much of anything. Because the gray world Ive managed to live in for the past two years has started to turn black around the edges.
But I cant say that. Itll only get me a ticket back to Dr. Beckers office for the next tier of mind-numbing meds.
I push a piece of hair out of my face, stalling, trying to think of something I can say. My God, Andi. Your hand, she says. What happened? She shakes her head. Its all about the pain, isnt it? The truancy, the bad grades, and now youve even found a way to use your beautiful music to inflict pain on yourself. Its like youre doing eternal penance.
You need to stop this, Andi. You need to find forgiveness for what happened.
Forgiveness for yourself. The anger starts up inside me again, red and deadly. Like it did when the Slater kid touched the key. I look away, trying to wrestle it down, wishing Beezie would just jump out the window and take her ugly pots with her. Wishing I was hearing notes and chords, not her voice. Wishing I was hearing Bachs Suite no. Written for cello and transcribed for guitar. Im supposed to be playing it with Nathan. Right now. Hows my crazy diamond, ja? His favorite musicians are Bach, Mozart, and the guys from Pink Floyd.
Nathan is old. Hes seventy-five. When he was little, he lost his family at Auschwitz. His mother and sister were gassed the day they arrived because they werent strong enough to work. Nathan survived because he was a prodigy, an eight-year-old boy who could play the violin like an angel. He played in the officers mess every night.
The officers liked his music, so they let him eat their leftovers. He would go back to his barracks late at night and throw up his food so his father could eat it. He tried to do it quietly, but one night the guards caught him. They beat him bloody and took his father away.
I knew what Nathan would say about my hand. Hed say that bleeding for Bach was no big deal. Hed say that people like Beethoven and Billie Holiday and Syd Barrett gave everything they had to their music, so what was a fingernail?
He wouldnt make a tragedy of it. He knew better. He knew tragedy. He knew loss. And he knew there was no such thing as forgiveness. Andi, are you hearing anything Im saying? Beezie is still at it. Yes, I am, Ms. Beezemeyer, I say solemnly, hoping if I look contrite I might get out of here before midnight. Ive sent letters home. About your failure to hand in an outline for your thesis. You probably know about them. I sent one to your mother and one to your father. I knew about the one to my mother.
The mailman dropped it through the slot. It lay on the floor in our front hall for a week until I kicked it out of the way. I didnt know Beezie sent one to my dad but it doesnt matter.
He doesnt open his mail. Mail is for lesser mortals. Do you have anything to say about all this, Andi? Anything at all? Well, I guess. I mean, I just dont see it happening, Ms. Beezemeyer, you know? The senior thesis. Not really. Cant I just get my diploma in June and go? Completing the senior thesis to at least a satisfactory level is a condition of earning your diploma. You know that. I cant let you graduate without it.
It would be unfair to your classmates. Not caring. Not at all. Desperate to get to my lesson. And what about your college applications? To Juilliard? The Eastman School? Beezie asks. Have you written the essays yet? Scheduled any auditions? I shake my head, cutting her off. Both legs are jiggling now. Im sweating. I need my classroom. My teacher. I need my music. Very badly. Beezie sighs deeply.