Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

From the privileged streets of modern Brooklyn to the heart of the French Revolution, 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.

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.


Revolution is a novel about hurt, healing, and hope. This ended up being an interesting story of mystery and the French Revolution with a modern parallel

Andi Alpers is a girl on a destructive spiral. After the death of her younger brother, she no longer has any interest in her life; and things seem to get progressively worse until her dad swoops in to take her with him on a business trip to Paris. It turns out this business is actually one of historical mystery. The preserved remains of a human heart are found, and it is speculated that it could be the heart of Louis-Charles, the youngest son of Marie Antoinette. Meanwhile, Andi is busy trying to finish her senior thesis so she can graduate high school, and get away from her father. But when she finds the journal of Alexandrine Paradis, the young prince's companion, she is also pulled into the mystery of the prince's death.

While this novel seemed interesting at first, with the mysteries surrounding the French Revolution, I could not bring myself to completely love the main character, Andi. While she did have some depth, being a musical genius and all, her stubbornness and recklessness drove me crazy. Nearly half of her problems could have been prevented if she took a second to stop and think about what she was doing. However, we do see some character growth with Andi as she eventually moves on from her brother's death, finding closure through talking about it with Virgil, the love interest in the novel.

The entire book was not about Andi and her problems, though. The historical aspect, told through the journal entries Andi reads, was fascinating. You gain insight to the Revolution and its effects on royals and common people alike. The parallels between Andi and Alexandrine's lives add to the overall effect in this novel, eventually becoming reality for Andi, giving you hope that there will be a happy ending even when all seems lost.  

Overall, the historical parallels, Andi's colorful characterization, and the interesting storyline, would give this a 3.5 star rating.

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