FROM A KINNELON LIBRARY TEEN REVIEWER:
Mattie Gokey (short for Mathilda) is a 16 year old school girl with a talent. She is an amazing writer, living in the early 1900s in a small farming town near NYC. Mattie's mother dies, her brother leaves, and Mattie is left the oldest in a huge family with her grumpy father. Not only is she stuck, feeding a family and helping out on a miserable farm, but there is romance sparking with the "most wanted" young man in the town, Royal Loomis. He is stupid, in a knowledge sense, but on the farm he is a genius. Royal would be good for Mattie, but there is one tiny problem: Mattie's teacher entered her short story into a scholarship contest and she has recieved a scholarship to Barnard College in NY. It is her dream to go, but Royal doesn't approve, her father needs help on the farm, and money is in short supply.
Mattie gets a job at a local hotel, Glenmore, as a waitress. With new friends and new adventures at the hotel, a young woman by the name of Grace Brown hands her a stack of letters and orders Mattie to burn them ASAP. A few hours later the same girl is found dead. She is reported to have gone out for a boat ride with her lover, Carl Grahm. She was found drowned and Mr. Grahm was not there. He is suspected to have also drowned. Mattie starts reading the letters and learns something that answers everyone's questions about the murder and helps come up with an answer to her own life questions, too.
This book is very hard to start, but if you keep going you begin to see how great it really is. It is geared toward girl readers, I think. A great book to read if you have the patience.