Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Pages: 472
Genre: YA Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: October 12, 2010
My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."

Andi is not your stereotypical rich teenager.  Yes, she does attend a prestigious private school and is overflowing with mandatory teenage angst, but she is much more than that. She is a talented musician who is seriously depressed and only finds happiness in her music.  She's not really living, but rather going through the motions ever since her younger brother, Truman, died.  Her mother is the same way; she hides in her brownstone prolifically painting pictures of her dead son and not really interacting with Andi, let alone the outside world.  They both have never allowed themselves to get over his death and to make matters worse, her father, a genius Nobel Prize winning scientist, has moved on and is never home.  That is until he gets wind that Andi is not going to graduate unless she completes her senior thesis, which she could care less about.  Her father demands that she come to Paris with him over break and work on her thesis there while he sends her mother to a much needed rehab facility.  Andi goes along with her father, kicking and screaming, and while in Paris she finds a diary from the French Revolution amongst her family friend's (historian) artifacts.  Andi connects to this diary and the girl's story even though it happened over two centuries ago.  Ultimately, the diary ends up changing her life forever.  Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution is one of the best historical fictions I've read and is, in my opinion, one of the best books of 2010.

Revolution, for me, really encompasses what historical fiction is all about.  Andi's tale was weaved effortlessly and was well researched.  At times the story was fun and whimsical, but there were some very dark parts as well, which in turn, took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions. Also, I felt the theme of this novel was important and focused on lessons surrounding love, life, death, and forgiveness.  Unlike a lot of the other young adult historical fiction novels that I've read recently, this book was intelligent and profound.

Revolution is first book that I've read by Donnelly and I am extremely impressed.  She truly has a way of capturing the human condition and while I would have probably wanted to strangle snarky Andi if she were written by another author, Donnelly, surprisingly, made me feel sympathetic towards her. Revolution truly spoke to me and even though a lot of the story's details were focused on events that occurred many, many years ago in the diary, readers can still identify with the story and Donnelly's message.  I'd say that, in itself, is the mark of a great novel.

Jennifer Donnelly has easily become one of my favorites and I will be getting my hands on a copy of A Northern Light as soon as possible. With that said, if you sit down to read only one book this holiday season, make it Revolution.  This is a book you do not want to miss!

*Read the first four chapters


  1. I'm glad you liked it. I have this on my xmas wish list because A Northern Light is one of my favorite books.

  2. Great review, Christina! I'm halfway done with Revolution and Jennifer Donnely is one of my favorite historical fiction authors. A Northern Light is just as fantastic as well as The Tea Rose. She really makes you feel for the characters. You should definitely check them out.

  3. I've been curious about this book for awhile now. I may definitely check it out now. I have a blog award for you here

  4. This sounds amazing! I'm really in a historical fiction mood lately.

  5. I just finished reading it too and was really impressed. Glad you enjoyed it. I'd like to read more like this one :)

  6. Thanks for checking out my review, guys! I appreciate it! And FantasyLover- Thank you so much for the award. I will check it out!

  7. Great review -- you really nailed it! I, too, was blown away by this book ... as in, I think this is a true masterpiece and should become a classic of YA literature.

    I love the lyrical and literary writing, the complex-yet-seamless storytelling and the layers upon layers of sublety and nuance (the Andi-Alex anagram, the many references to Dante's Inferno, the gradual merging of Andi and Alex's souls, etc.)

    But most of all, I love how this book opened my eyes. I shared Andi/Alex's epiphany as I read it, and it changed me forever.

    Do read A Northern Light. It's also brilliant -- but on a smaller, quieter scale.

  8. Great review! I totally loved this book too, and I loved all the hidden meanings and connections as Buchs just mentioned. I could totally read this one again. It's one of the best YA books I've read this year.

  9. I really need to read this one. I do have a copy so no excuse really. I'm glad you say that it is exactly what historical fic is about. Really encouraging.


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