Andi Alpers is on the verge of being expelled from her Brooklyn prep school when her father intervenes. His price is that Andi spend winter break with him in Paris, where she is expected to work on her senior thesis, a study of famous French composer Amade Mahlerbeau. Any other girl would be thrilled at spending Christmas in Paris, but Andi resents her father for being absent throughout her life, and knows that he blames her for the death of her younger brother Truman. But while staying at a family friend’s, Andi discovers a hidden diary dating back to the eighteenth century. In it is the story of Alexandrine Paradis, a young woman caught in the cross fires of the French Revolution. Alex’s story grabs hold of Andi and takes her through the years, all over Paris, and finally into the catacombs, where both girls’ fates intertwine.
Revolution is a most excellent novel–complicated, brutal, heartbreaking, and striking. While the majority of the book is told from Andi’s point of view, Revolution is equally Alex’s story. Donnelly brings Alex and the French Revolution alive in her diary, and shows us not only the struggles of the people and their fight for a better life, but also the suffering of the royal family, especially the lost prince Louis-Charles and the injustices he endured before his death. There are so many elements of Revolution that come together perfectly: Andi’s grief and pain over the loss of her brother and her strained relationship with her parents, her research into Mahlerbeau, his mysterious past, and why he named his most famous work The Fireworks Concerto, Alex’s own life, the time she spent in the catacombs, her devotion to the prince Louis-Charles, and finally the twenty-first century investigation into the genetics of his lost heart. Everything is stunningly played out until Andi and Alex come to the same powerful realization, hundreds of years apart–that life and the world will be brutal and terrible, and no one can ever change that, but they can change themselves, and this revelation is the most affecting revolution both girls experience. Revolution is a beautiful, meticulously researched, with realistic characterization. It is full of music and words that have the power to heal, and the ability to transcend centuries of time. It goes beyond all description, and it will resonate deeply with you. You simply must read it.
Tirzah Price is a sophomore at Ferris State University and blogs regularly at thecompulsivereader.com. If not reading or writing, she is most likely lurking around Twitter @compelledtoread.