REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly
Andi Alpers is a teenage girl from Modern day Brooklyn. She is angry and on the verge of self-destruction after her younger brother is murdered in the streets of New York. She is angry that her father has left and angry that her mother cannot cope. Andi’s self destructive behavior has caused problems at school and she is at risk of being expelled from one of Brooklyn’s premier schools. That is until her father intervenes and takes Andi away to Paris with him. While in Paris Andi discovers a diary written by a teenage girl named Alexandrine Paradis that lived over two hundred years ago during the French Revolution.
Alexandrine has always wished for fame and has hopes of performing on the Paris stage. Unfortunately, she never gets the chance she so desperately pines for. On one fateful day while performing in the square with her family the Royal family stops to see her perform. The young prince is present and finds Alex quite entertaining. The King and Queen then summon Alex to the palace and ask that she become the personal companion to the young prince. This is the beginning of Alex’s tragic part in the French Revolution, a role she neither wants nor can escape from.
Two girls that live two Centuries apart and yet they are connected through struggles that transcends history and time. Andi has found distraction and comfort within the pages of Alex’s diary, something she hasn’t felt since before her brother died. Andi is intrigued by Alex’s world almost to the point of obsession, and finds her self-going to places Alex would have gone during the Revolution, including the Catacombs. One night while Andi is deep underground in the catacombs under Paris Alex’s diary becomes a little more that just words in a book; they become something much more real.
Let me just start off by saying I really, really enjoyed reading this book. The writing was well done and it was very similar to reading an adult historical fiction. The story telling and plot was fantastic, and really brought you into the story. The amount of research that was involved in bringing this story to life had to have been tremendous, and boy did it pay off. The descriptions and imagery used to describe the era of the French Revolution was both eye opening and sometimes quite nauseating. This was a brutal time in Paris’s history and I feel Ms. Donnelly did a stellar job of relaying that to the reader.
The Character development is also excellent. Andi and Alex really just take over your mind and heart, and you can’t help but to think about them and hope that everything works out the way it should in the end. The way Ms. Donnelly writes these characters you feel as though you know them, that they are friends of yours. You feel for both of them and sympathies with the burden each of them carry. The supporting characters are also well developed. Virgil is a nice offset to the rather intense Andi. I found that I really enjoyed reading his character and felt comfort in his ability to neutralize some of AndI’s more destructive behavior.
“Revolution” is a great read and I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Young Adult fiction or historical fiction. However, I did feel that there were a lot of serious topics touched upon in this book. Some of the topics I felt may be of concern for parents of young adult readers were- depression, suicide, death, and of course violence. These topics however were necessary for the progression of the story and without them the story would not have been the same. I feel as though this book had a very positive ending and tells a great story of healing and forgiveness, and the strength one processes to over come difficult obstacles to live a good and happy life.