Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Summary: [from GoodReads]
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.
Oh wow was this one depressing! Not in a bad way though – I learned a lot from this book and really enjoyed reading it. It just really wasn’t what I was expecting.
One of the things I love about historical fiction is the personal accounting of historical events. Sure, I can read about what happened in a textbook but that’s dry and boring, and I probably wouldn’t remember it beyond a week or two. An incredibly heart-wrenching book like Revolution on the other hand, is definitely going to stick with me, because it’s like I’m living through events along with the characters.
I also really liked the parallelism between Andi’s story and Alexandrine’s. It was fun to try and figure out what matched, and how elements of one story would play out in the other. Andi is perfectly set up to feel for Alexandrine’s quest to save Charles because he looks so like her little brother Truman, whome she couldn’t save. And even though it had to get worse before it got better, Alexandrine’s story helps Andi through her problems, so when we finish, we feel satisfied with the ending.
As a musician, I was impressed by the musical aspects of the book as well. Andi is doing some pretty in-depth, college level research on a (fictional) composer. While the music she’s discussing isn’t real, all of the techniques she points out are. She points out some things that are incredibly interesting and that make me wish this composer were real, so I could go and actually look at what she’s talking about.
I have to say, though, a tiny part of me wondered what the point of the time travel was. I liked that we got Alexandrine’s story through Andi’s eyes. Andi’s trip back in time just seemed a little unnecessary (and you know me, I love time travel, so if I’m thinking you didn’t need it, you have a problem!) It didn’t give us much more closure on the story than the diary could. In fact, the only real purpose that I could see was so that Andi could explain her thesis paper with “Oops, my bad, shouldn’t have let him listen to all that Led Zepplin when I was back in time!”
Even so, Revolution is a wonderful book that would be great for a classroom discussion. I would recommend it to fans of both contemporary and historical fiction – it’s got some things for both!