A unique aspect of A Northern Light is the nonfiction element. This is a fictional novel about the made up character Mattie Gokey, but the novel features the real life murder of Grace Brown. Jennifer Donnelly mingles this historical event into her novel.
Another interesting literary element is the timeline or sequence of storytelling. The novel is from the point of view of Mattie, but the narrative moves between two timelines: Mattie's employment at the Glenmore Hotel where Grace is killed, and Mattie's life leading up to her working at the Hotel to save money for school. The chapters alternate between the present and the past.
The storytelling sequence creates an element of parallelism. We are reading two stories at the same time, and therefore can draw parallels between Mattie in the past and Mattie at the Glenmore.
You could also call the chapters about Mattie's past as flashbacks.
One literary device found throughout the book is allusion . Mattie wants to be a writer, so there are many...
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