A Northern Light

I brought this book with me on a holiday and stayed up ’til 2 A.M. and woke up at 6:30 A.M. just to get back to the story. I finished the book in less than a day, a feat when you’re on a vacation. It was a compelling read and I enjoyed it a lot. The setting was vivid and the era so well-rendered and well-researched too that it felt like I was reading a real memoir from a real person living in the 1900’s. I felt like I was there, and in many ways, I was. Mattie lost her mother to the same disease I lost mine to (the emperor of maladies), I read a lot/too much when I was younger and was consistently harassed for it (my fault though, I read before doing chores), and I too, was and am, caught between familial responsibilities, societal pressures and wanting to be yourself and do the things you want to do, which is all too familiar for bull-headed females who take the road not taken.

It was an interesting book to escape a hard reality from because “they” too lived a hard life. It isn’t all roses and perfume and grand and beautiful things, but the book felt real. I liked it a lot.

A Northern Light

Sadly though, I don’t love it as much as Darden and all the other kids at Goodreads did. I’m not really sure why, but I have an inkling that it’s because I am too old for it, or I’ve read The Book Thief first, or that the word games are all too familiar to me so it didn’t really bring something new to the table. The word play and the word games felt somewhat juvenile, and a bit gimmicky. 😦

I also couldn’t help but compare it to The Book Thief, which is a sad exercise to do when you’re reading a book (compare it with something else, I mean). But I couldn’t help it. I was set up for it and it ultimately led to disappointment because the prose for A Northern Light just didn’t… sing. It’s good writing but it’s not seamless, nor was it staggeringly beautiful – very much unlike Markus Zusak’s prose, which literally gave me goosebumps and made me want to cry just for being so elegant and sublime.

I also didn’t like how it turned out in the end – Mattie’s choices did not parallel what would’ve been mine, though I really don’t want to judge the book, a work of fiction, by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of my life, so that’s another matter.

I’m not saying that A Northern Light isn’t a good book. It is. I’m pretty sure I would love this so much more if I had read it years ago. I may not be gaga over it, I’m still very much glad I read it. Thank you.

A Northern Light

Aren’t the photos beautiful? I hope you like it as much as I do. We took them at the majestic Lake Danao in Camotes Island, which is probably the most apt setting we could think of for a shoot of this book *wink wink nudge nudge*. The place is amazingly peaceful and beautiful. I have not seen anything quite like it.

Here’s a bonus photo of us kayaking in the water. Look how placid everything is. We were the only ones creating a ruckus in the area. A Northern Light


Author: Dar @ thebookexperience


2 thoughts on “A Northern Light”

  1. The photos are breath-taking, Darliza! That you chose this book to accompany you to such a lovely place on a holiday is already one big thing I am grateful for. By all accounts, the view is stunning.

    It’s unfortunate that we could not fangirl over the book as I’m embarrassingly envisioning in my head, but this review leaves me satisfied in so many ways. Hell, just the very thought alone of being able to share one of my most favorite books of all time and my thoughts about it with someone already makes me giddy. That you found time to read this is and that you somehow connected with Mattie in some ways is already enough for me, because I just, well, really loved her and thought I should tell at least one person about her story (preferably a bookworm like me). And yes, I quite agree with you about the way the story ended—it could’ve done better. In fact, the reason why I told you to ignore the cover blurb is because the mystery of Grace Brown barely has anything to do with the plot, so it obviously became its weak point and my least favorite bit.

    This makes me worried about Book Thief though, because I might do exactly the same point of comparison between this and that once I begin reading it in March. I guess I’ll just take your cue, then. If the Book Thief tops this book then it could only mean a better reading experience on a whole new level, right? I’m already excited!

    Thank you for letting me share this book with you, it means a lot to me.

    I’m almost done reading Ender’s Game and will also be posting my thoughts about it real soon. The weather here in Manila is lovely and I couldn’t wish for a more perfect time to read it. They say it’s bed weather, I say it’s bed-with-a-book weather, haha.


    1. Thanks! I’m glad you liked the photos. 🙂 I really had fun taking them. The lake reminded me of Grace Brown and that scene in the book where Mattie and the other Glenmore girls went for a swim.

      By all accounts, I really do like Mattie. She’s a girl after my own heart, and I love her strength and compassion. And I am not as brave as she is which is probably why I wouldn’t have had chosen her ending.

      Grace Brown’s story was bittersweet, but it is a weak plot device, IMO. Its effect on Mattie was unconvincing and I would’ve preferred Mattie to realize her path so much differently. I knew Grace’s letters inspired Donnelly but it didn’t inspire me in the same way at all. Alas! I should’ve read it when I was younger and less cynical. 😛

      The Book Thief was really something – Liesel is younger than Mattie but the book seems heavier and more mature; well, it’s set in WWII and anything from that era ought to be ponderous thematically. I know I’m setting the bar up real high considering how much you love ANL. The Book Thief might not be better for you than ANL, but I’m still glad you’ll be reading it soon. It was quite an experience for me. You will, at the very least, find the prose interesting. It was very lyrical. 🙂

      I’m looking forward to reading what you think of it.

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