Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Andi's stuck in a black hole of despair, and she's not terribly interested in finding an exit. She's not really interested in anything except staying angry and playing her guitar, since music is the only thing that can penetrate the haze of pain that is her life since little brother Truman was murdered two years ago. A murder she feels responsible for. It's all Andi can do to hold on to her sanity and take care of her artist mom, who's done nothing but stay inside and paint hundreds of portraits of Truman since he died. Since her dad split to find himself a new, less crazy family, Andi's pretty much on her own.

When her exclusive boarding school threatens to kick her out, Andi doesn't really care, but her geneticist father does. He invades her life, commits her mom to the psych ward, and forces Andi to Paris with him, where he's running DNA tests on a human heart believed to belong to Louis-Charles, the son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. Andi strikes a deal with her dad - if she writes her senior thesis proposal and finishes the introduction, she can go home and visit her mom.

Andi's writing her thesis on French Revolution-era guitarist Amade Malherbeau, so she figures she may as well grab a few primary sources while she's in Paris. While researching, she stumbles across a diary belonging to Alexandrine Paradis, a girl living in Paris during the French Revolution. Andi can't stop reading the diary, even though she knows she should be working on her thesis - Alex befriends Louis-Charles, and Andi finds herself hoping that the diary, and her father's DNA tests of the heart, will reveal that the young Dauphin escaped the Revolution instead of dying, insane and alone, in the prison tower. And when Andi meets Virgil, another music junkie, their instant connection and Alex's diary give her two very good reasons to stay in Paris.

Shifting between Andi's quest and Alex's race to survive the French Revolution with her soul, and her head, intact, Revolution is a gripping, intense read that pulls no punches on both girls' hearts. Twining music, mystery, and history into a powerful exploration of the human heart, Jennifer Donnelly's newest novel is a fall must-read.

(who recently discovered The Vampire Diaries, and CAN'T STOP WATCHING. Or reading. Seriously. Elena, Damon and Stefan have taken over my life!)