Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

From the Back Cover:

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.

My Thoughts:

Andi Alpers is one messed up little girl. Two years after the tragic death of her brother she's still reeling, trapped in a downward spiral of grief, guilt, and self-hatred. Once a brilliant student and musician, her grades are suffering, her relationships are deteriorating, and her future is in jeopardy. She tries to drown her troubles in drugs and meaningless sex, and she contemplates suicide often. And she's not alone in her suffering. Her mother has also not been able to cope with the loss of her son and has retreated into her own inner world, relying on Andi to take care of her. Andi's Nobel-prize winning father had always been distant, and now he's just absent, preferring not to witness his wife's and daughter's self-destruction, until a phone call from Andi's school forces him to confront the situation and take action. He puts his wife in a mental institution and drags his daughter to Paris, where he's working on a high-profile project.

That project turns out to be one of huge historical significance, and based on a true story. Is the 200-year old heart in a glass jar that survived the French Revolution really that of young prince Louis-Charles, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette? As her father becomes immersed in DNA testing, Andi is left on her own with orders to finish her senior project about French composer Mahlerbeau. While rummaging through a warehouse of French Revolution artifacts, she discovers a young woman's diary. While roaming the streets of Paris she ends up in a cafe where she meets a magnetic young man. Though it's a long, arduous, emotional journey, these two young people help Andi find her way back to life, and help solve a 200-year-old mystery in the process.

Overall I thought this was a great novel. I had a few issues with the last hundred pages, but not enough to keep me from recommending this as one of the best young adult novels I've read this year, and excellent historical fiction, too. My little summary really doesn't do justice to the depths of Andi's emotional suffering. She really is tortured and it's so sad to live inside her head, to feel her pain and despair. It's heartwrenching. I was in tears half a dozen times before she even got to Paris. And Alex's diary provides a riveting glimpse into history, of the terror the royal household must have felt during those dark and bloody days, and the fate of one brave young woman and a sad little prince. This book is stunningly written, with a raw, gritty feel that really pulls the reader into Andi's and Alex's worlds, and blends those worlds seamlessly into a poignant, emotional, memorable reading experience.

My Rating:  4.5 Stars out of 5

*Please note: This review references an advance copy received from the publisher, and therefore the final published copy may differ. Though I received this book from the publisher, these are my honest and unbiased thoughts, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.


  1. Another historical novel I'd love to read, and am also intrigued by the Paris catacombs. Nice review.

  2. Interesting review! I love her Tea Rose and Winter Rose novels...definitely a favorite author of mine. On another note, I see you are reading The Distant Hours - I just read it and loved it, and I hope you do, too!

  3. It sounds like a novel to become lost in. Thank you for this review! I will have to put it on my list for 2011 :)

  4. This one has really gotten great reviews ... I must head over to my Goodreads shelf to make certain that I have it on my to-buy list!

  5. I picked this one up to read on the plane when I was away thinking I would read it for the ten minutes or so during take off, and then go back to the ebook I was reading. Three hours later I was still reading this one.

    I love Jennifer Donnelly's writing, and can't wait for The Wild Rose to finally come out next year.


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