Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Release: October 12th 2010
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Goodreads Summary:BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.
PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.
Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.
Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.
If there was one word that I could use to describe this book it would be: Powerful. I thought Revolution was a heart-wrenching, raw and engrossing book. It is all about finding out who you are, what you stand for, understanding tragedy and whether you can triumph amongst adversity.
Andi, main character of this book, is hands down one of my favorite female lead characters within Young Adult Literature. She just felt very real. Her sadness and her grief just leaped off of the pages for me. At first glance she may seem like she has it all: wealth, talent (she is an amazing musician) and youth. But behind the scenes, we soon find that Andi has been struck by tragedy and that her sadness has broken her as a person. Despite all of the anger and grief that she feels, she comes across as an intelligent young woman, who is independent yet lost and in need of a sense of direction.
The story within this book is quite intriguing. Through a certain number of events, Andi who is from Brooklyn, New York soon finds herself in Paris. She then finds a journal, a diary of sorts, of an impoverished teen street actress in Paris named Alexandrine (Alex) who was alive during the French Revolution. And that is when readers meet the second female lead charcter in this book, who has quite a fascinating story to tell, as well. The accounts left by Alex in her journal then allow Andi to transport herself to the time of The French Revolution and to envision what Paris was like back then. And I loved every minute of it!
I have to say that Paris literally becomes a character of it's own in Revolution. It just feels alive. Both past and present Paris are vividly described in this book. You can tell that Jennifer Donnelly did thorough research for this book. There were times, during the passages revolving around Alex, who was the street actress alive during the French Revolution, that you literally feel the anxiety that the citizens of Paris felt during the French Revolution. At a certain point, the reader forgets that he or she knows the outcome of of it all, and you just feel the sheer terror, the state of impermanence, and the suffering that transpired during this turbulent moment in history. Jennifer Donnelly does something fascinating with this book, she makes the reader think about the winners of the revolution, if you can even call that winning, and those who lost during the revolution. We get to see the human side of the revolution. How did it affect people? What was really lost during it and what was won, if anything?
After reading this book. You are not left the same. Especially after you learn about the barbaric events that took place with Louis-Charles, the small son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI (real events, might I add). And I think that the author weaves in this real event with fiction for a reason. She really wants the reader to think about tragedy and how we as people should respond do it. Because at the heart of this story, both Andi and Alex are struggling against despair. They might be from different era's but their central dilemma is the same and you literally feel their pain and are right there with them in the desire for an answer to it all.
I have to say that there are so many charming secondary characters in this book. I loved Vijay (Andi's best friend), I really loved Virgil as well (a guy Andi meets in Paris who helps her a lot through her journey). Amade was also great to read about and Lenotre (a passionate researcher of the French Revolution and a good friend of Andi's dad). I also loved the romance in this book. It was sweet and not overbearing on the plot or the main character, for that matter. It was also a surprise because Andi seemed like she only had space in her life for her undying and passionate love for music. I didn't foresee any romance because of the emotional state Andi was in. But despite of her troubles there is a surprising romance that springs up amongst the mist. Definite bonus for the story.
And towards the end, there is this event that happens, totally unexpected event, that really helps Andi connect to Alex and the period of the French Revolution. It was surprising and I loved it.
This is definitely not a light read in the sense that this book will twist and chew up your emotions and spit them out. It just gets to you. But I have to say that this book does have a surprising answer for the questions: Why does tragedy exist? & How should I survive it? Anyone who is in a tough spot and struggling against anger, depression, despair and guilt should read this book because it may have a lot of melancholy through out it but at the end it has a rather uplifting message of hope.