Jennifer Donnelly’s new novel, Revolution, is captivating. It’s complex, layered and poetic. Like Donnelly’s previous YA novel, A Northern Light, this book has history, mystery, and heartbreak, but it also has an element of fantasy. It centers around two girls, two centuries apart. One is Andi Alpers, a talented young musician who is on the verge of a breakdown after the death of her younger brother. The other is Alexandrine Paradis, an actor and companion to the son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI. In the beginning, Andi is very close to failing her year at her prestigious Brooklyn private school. Since the death of her brother, her mother is hardly functioning. Andi’s father decides to take her to Paris, where he will be doing some unusual genetic testing to see if a preserved heart is the heart of the dauphin, Louis-Charles, who was imprisoned so many years before. In Paris, Andi discovers Alexandrine’s diary and finds herself drawn into Alex’s struggle. Paris and the diary change Andi’s life.
Here’s Jennifer Donnelly speaking about the book:
Revolution is in places very dark and sad, but it is also a story about hope and healing, and the role that art can play to create meaning and offer solace in an often brutal world. There are some wonderful sections on the power of music and creativity to provide consolation and inspire courage in the most desperate circumstances. I think Revolution should appeal to readers who might not typically go for historical novels, even though it is heavily historical. The reason is that Andi is such a believable teen. She’s angry and defiant and desperate, and she’s so full of potential. You really come to care about her and want to see her survive. The themes are brilliantly developed and Donnelly has skillfully interwoven the contemporary and historical plot-lines. When I finished the last page (what an ending!), I realized this novel had really seized me, made me think, and moved me. This is the sort of story that becomes a part of you and alters the way you see the world. It’s that good. Don’t miss it.
Revolution is published by Delacorte.