REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly
Published January 1, 2010
Publisher: Random House Delacorte Books for Young Readers
From the privileged streets of modern Brooklyn to the heart of the French Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly, author of the award-winning novel A Northern Light, artfully weaves two girls’ stories into one unforgettable account of life, loss, and enduring love. Revolution spans centuries and vividly depicts the eternal struggles of the human heart.
BROOKLYN: 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.
PARIS: 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.
One of the most extraordinary YA novel I’ve ever read – and that is saying a lot. For some, it may not be an easy read. Revolution is a mix of historical fiction and fiction. It tells Andi’s story, a young woman living today with such unbearable pain, suicide is a real possibility. Andi’s story interlinks with story of Alex, a young woman, which Andi reads in a diary. Alex’s story is set during the French Revolution. The pain is palatable, eased only by one note of music at a time. Walk the streets of Brooklyn, get lost in the madness of the streets of Paris during the Revolution, find hope in modern Paris, and struggle with the question: What have we learned from history? The time and dedication and research and painstaking care that Donnelly took to make the words fly off the page, to form lasting images, and to create characters who come to life, literally took my breath away.
PS. I recommended Revolution to my son’s former French teacher, now retired. She called me today to say she LOVED Revolution. Thought that it was one of the most incredible Historical Fiction novels she’s read, perfect for YA and adults. And the historical descriptions and the modern day descriptions of Paris and the characters were dead on! If you haven’t read Revolution – pick it up. It will stay with you.
Watch this video to hear Jennifer Donnelly talk about the novel: