Saturday, May 21, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Published: October 2010
Publisher: Delacorte Press for young readers
Pages: 472
Copy: Library
Summary: 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.

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.

Revolution was without doubt the best book I have read so far in 2011.  Beautiful writing, believable characters and a Paris setting come together for one of the most complex and compelling books I have ever read.  The contemporary Paris timeline with Andi was woven skillfully through with the revolutionary Paris and Alex.  Both completely separate, yet at the same time part of each other. 

Andi's pain was heartbreaking.  Her inability to cope with the death of her brother, for which she blamed herself, was so achingly drawn that I suffered with her.  Objectively, I was angry that she couldn't pull herself out of her depression, but subjectively I was right there with her.  This was also the case with Alex, who is brought to life through the pages of her diary.  Their stories became so real to me that it was hard to remain objective. 

Ms. Donnelly's inclusion of music in the story was incredible.  By the end of the book I was searching the internet to find out more about Amade Malherbeau. The references and comparisons to contemporary music were so well researched that it was extremely hard to believe that he was not a real person. I found myself wanting to listen to Bach, Beethoven, Led Zeppelin and Radiohead, just so that I could understand what she was telling me.  So much so, that the music becomes a character in itself. 

I was able to fall into contemporary Paris with Andi and 18 Century Paris with Alex.  I actually went and found some cloves, just so I could experience the smell of them along with the girls.  It's hard to expain the agony and sorrow that is to be found in this book, but at the same time there is that positive thread  that winds through the story - thanks to Virgil, and it is so strong that the story turns into one of hope and redemption.

'I put the diary down for a moment and close my eyes.  I see that girl, too.  In my mind.  I hear her voice.  And I want her to tell me the rest of her story.' (p150)

I couldn't put it better myself! There was nothing I disliked about Revolution.  I cried several times throughout the story, but I ended up smiling and thinking 'WOW, I'm going to have to read that again.'  Try it for yourself and fall into history, the way it should told.


  1. Amazing review, thank you. I will definitely look for this one.

  2. Yes! This was my favorite book of 2010. Thanks for bringing it all back -- you made me want to read it again!

  3. This book was amazing, I agree that it was one of the best books I've read this year! Jennifer Donnelly is such an amazing author, I really need to check out her other book :) Great review for a great book! :D