Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly 

 February 13, 2023

By  LibriDilectio

Coming 12 October 2010 – That’s TODAY!
Delacorte Books for Young Readers. ARC from ALA.

Andi is a modern day teen, living in Brooklyn, and dealing with the death of her brother. Alex is a girl who lived during the height of the French Revolution and was close to the royal family of Louis XVI. When Andi finds Alex’s journal she feels a deep connection to the girl who lived two centuries before. The further she digs into Alex’s story, the more she realizes it’s implications on the modern day interpretation of the Revolution. As Andi struggles to deal with her own demons, she also takes on those of Alex, which just might be more than she can bear.

This is mostly Andi’s story, but it’s told in both girl’s voices. Andi is struggling in school and in life when her mostly absent father steps in to take her away for her winter break. He believes that getting her out of Brooklyn, away from the memories of what happened to her brother and taking care of her deeply depressed mother, will help Andi focus on not failing out of school. Her father, a Nobel prize winning geneticist, has been invited to Paris by a family friend to solve a centuries old mystery. A mystery that, Andi soon learns, Alex was intimately connected to.

I love historical novels that introduce new elements of history to me. A main thread of this story involves the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, Louis-Charles. I knew that he died during the Revolution, but I wasn’t fully aware of the details. The novel presents them in a way that fascinated me and I had to know if the story was true. Upon further research, I realized that, yes, the story of Louis-Charles is based on historical fact! Hopefully, teens who read this book will be equally interested and moved to further research.

This book, though a little on the long side, was engrossing and fascinating. I loved that Andi and Alex’s voices were so similar and yet different enough that I did know which was which. I really felt the connection between the two young women. Andi kept saying that things happened because Alex wanted them to. She could feel the long dead girl leading her through Paris and forcing her to read on in her story.

Another very interesting aspect of this novel is it’s emphasis on the evolution of music. Andi is writing a thesis on the influence an historical French composer had on modern musicians. She frequently makes reference to musicians, their songs, and the composers whose influence can be heard in them. It made me want to go listen to the music she talked about and hear it for myself. Teenagers will love the nod to their favorite bands and, hopefully, will want to listen to the classical composers who influenced their songs.

This novel was an interesting mash up of historical fiction and realistic fiction, with just a splash of magical realism. I really couldn’t put it down. This would be a great novel for a high school student to read in concurrence with a study of the French Revolution. I think it would make the history come alive for them. Revolution comes out TODAY, so head out and pick up a copy right now…now…seriously…now.