Revolution

7 Feb

In her novel Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly weaves together the lives of two young women living in very different time periods – Andi Alpers, a modern-day teenager who relies upon anti-depressants to escape the pain of her reality, and Alexandrine Paradis, a heroic young woman in the midst of the French Revolution.

Andi Alpers is nearing graduation at a prep school in Brooklyn. She should be working on her thesis paper, a requirement for admission to Ivy League colleges. Andi, however, has decided to not write a thesis. Instead, she spends time playing her guitar, attempting to drown out the pain of her crumbling family. Her younger brother died nearly two years ago; her mother experienced a subsequent emotional breakdown. Unable to face the loss of his son and instability of his wife, Andi’s father focuses on his work as a geneticist. Andi is alone.

When Andi’s parents receive a letter from her school regarding their daughter’s poor academic performance, Mr. Alpers insists that Andi accompany him to Paris where has been hired to match the DNA of a heart believed to belong to Louis-Charles, son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. While he works on his research in Paris, Mr. Alpers hopes his daughter will use the city’s wonderful libraries to research her thesis topic.

For Andi, being stuck in Paris with her estranged father is like a jail sentence. So she strikes a deal. If she is able to write an outline for her thesis and get it approved by her father, Andi will be permitted to leave Paris on the weekend. Her plans change, however, when she discovers a beautiful guitar from the 1700s with mysterious origins. While Andi adores the instrument, she is more interested in what she finds within its case: a painting of Louis-Charles and a diary belonging to Alexandrine Paradis. At first, Andi tries to ignore the diary. After all, she must focus on her thesis outline or she will never be able to leave by the weekend. However, the diary keeps calling her back. What happened to Alexandrine? And what happened to her young charge, Louis-Charles?The diary brings the past to life for Andi. Within its pages, she discovers the brutal history of France during the Revolution; she also discovers a kindred spirit within Alexandrine. Most importantly of all, Andi learns about the transformative powers of hope.

I loved this book! From the first page to the last sentence, I was riveted to Donnelly’s narrative about the French Revolution. Prior to reading Revolution, I knew very little about this time period in France’s history. However, Donnelly skillfully weaves fact into fiction, creating a believable story that has inspired me to learn more about the French Revolution. In fact, before finishing Revolution, I downloaded a book about Marie Antoinette to my Nook. 🙂

I LOVED the theme of this book! As the story begins, we are greeted by a hopeless Andi. Her family is a wreck. She is addicted to anti-depressants. She has no idea what she wants to do when she graduates from high school. To Andi, hope is a four-letter word, the “crystal meth of emotions.”  As the story unfolds, however, Andi finds a purpose. She starts to trust people, to let herself love. Although the world may be brutal and uncaring, Andi learns that she does not have to act in kind. She can let herself hope.

I also really enjoyed the characters in Revolution. Jennifer Donnelly has captured the life of a teenager in a compassionate and realistic manner. Andi, depressed and withdrawn, is the type of teenager most adults would label “no good.” However, Donnelly’s account of the young woman’s personal turmoil makes us sympathetic to her plight. I found myself truly caring for Andi Alpers.

On a side note, I heard about this book via Dana Huff’s website, Much Madness is Divinest Sense. I probably wouldn’t have selected this book on my own, but Dana spoke highly of it so I thought I would give it a try. I love it when a book recommendation leads me to a book I truly enjoy!

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2 Responses to “Revolution”

  1. littleguy442 February 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    such a good description!you got me excited to read this one!

    • salmeida February 16, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

      This would be a great book for someone who doesn’t normally enjoy reading! 😉 Hint, hint …

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