this is one of my favorite historical fiction novels for young adults.
New York state-1906, 16 year-old Mattie wants badly to attend college to become a writer. While working at the inn to earn money for college, a guest named Grace Brown asks her to burn a stack of secret letters. Shortly after the request, Grace's body is found in the nearby lake; might the letters hold the key to her murder?
Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey has a word for everything, and big dreams but little hope of seeing them come true. She collects words, stores them up as a way of fending off the hard truths of her life, the truths that she can't write down in stories.The fresh pain of her mother's death. The burden of raising her sisters while her father struggles over his brokeback farm. The mad welter of feelings Mattie has for handsome but dull Royal Loomis, who says he wants to marry her. And the secret dreams that keep her going--visions of finishing high school, going to college in New York City, becoming a writer.Desperate for money, she takes a job at the Glenmore, where hotel guest Grace Brown entrusts her with the task of burning a secret bundle of letters. But when Grace's drowned body is fished from Big Moose Lake, Mattie discovers that the letters could reveal the grim truth behind a murder.Set in 1906 in the Adirondack Mountains, against the backdrop of the murder that inspired Theodore Dreiser's An American Tragedy, this Printz Honor-winning coming-of-age novel effortlessly weaves romance, history, and a murder mystery into something moving, and real, and wholly original.
A 2011 ALA Popular Paperbacks Title
"Jennifer Donnelly has populated her first young-adult novel with a community of distinctive characters who ring rich and true."
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