About a year ago a librarian friend recommended Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly to me. I had pretty much forgotten about it until I saw the audiobook at my local public library! (Yay publib libraries!)
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. 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.
I was super obsessed with this audiobook! Honestly, I’m always a fan of historical fiction but Revolution added a whole new level of coolness to a genre I already love.
So, as a history major in college, I already knew a good deal about the French Revolution, but I’d never heard the story and controversy surrounding Louis-Charles, the youngest son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. Holy crap what a crazy intriguing story to use as the catalyst for Andi’s self discovery and healing!
Donnelly’s weaving together of the modern and historical narratives seriously made me wonder where the fiction stops and the history begins. I love it when historical fiction is written that well! After finishing the book I spent at least an hour scouring websites searching for more information on the French Revolution and the story of the “Lost Dauphin”.
The story was awesome, but I did have a difficult time connecting to the super tough, broken and distraught Andi. She actually intimated me upon first meeting her in the beginning of the book! If I met Andi in real life I’d be way to scared to even be within 5o feet of her! But, I do think that’s the point. When we meet her in the beginning of the story, she isn’t who she was meant to be. She is instead a brittle, prickly shell of her self struggling with intense guilt.
As I mentioned before I listened to the audiobook and loved it. There were two narrators, one for Andi and one for Alexandrine and both were consistent because that’s a huge thing for me!
Revolution is most definitely Young Adult, not middle grades, but I do think some mature middle schoolers could read it. I was really, really captivated by this book and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good historical fiction read!