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Review: Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly

Andi’s life hasn’t been right for two years, ever since her little brother Truman lost his life on a Brooklyn street.  She’s convinced it’s her fault, and in the wake of his death, her family has fallen apart.  Her father has moved to Boston and begun a new life; her mother spends her days painting portraits of her dead son.  Meanwhile, Andi is failing out of school and can only take refuge in one thing:  her music.  Unexpectedly, Andi’s father decides she must graduate from high school.  He sends her mother to a mental hospital and whisks Andi off to Paris, insisting she write her senior thesis outline under his watch.  In Paris, Andi discovers a diary inside an old guitar case, and a surprising connection to a girl from the French Revolution who watched over Louis-Charles, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

When I finished this book, there was just one word in my head.  Wow.  Jennifer Donnelly has some talent going on and it’s in full force with Revolution. I can say I was uncertain for about the first hundred pages, but by the time Andi discovers the diary, I was completely rapt and managed to finish the rest of the book in less than half a day.  I just couldn’t put it down.  I knew the outcome but I still felt like I had to know what happened, to Andi, to Alex, even to Louis-Charles.  Donnelly melds history, music, and the pains of growing up amidst tragedy in ways that are almost indescribably beautiful and moving.

What most stood out to me was Andi’s character.  Faced with incredible difficulties, she’s on the verge of falling apart.  Unfortunately the death of a loved one seems to be a recurring theme in my reading lately – subconscious choices as I get closer to a day like that for me perhaps – and Andi’s struggle is difficult.  I could completely feel for her and can’t imagine how much harder it would be if I had a reason to blame myself for a loved one’s death.  Resisting the urge to fall apart isn’t easy.  Donnelly masterfully sketches out her character in the space of just a few chapters; the first were hard to take and you could argue that the story takes too long to get going, but Andi’s character is one thing she gets perfectly correct.

I also thought the music angle was a very cool line to take and the perfect message for the book’s target audience.  So many teens and young adults use music to express themselves in a way – the rest of us do too, but it’s difficult to recapture that frenzy and desperate energy that teenagers seem to have (I know, I speak like I’m way older than I am here, but this is long gone for me).  Andi’s discoveries and musical passion make her interesting for all age ranges, in my opinion, and I loved the fact that her historical experiences and her academic experiences tied in so awesomely by the end.

All in all, Revolution was a pretty amazing book.  I don’t think it matters if you’re a teen or an adult, this is truly excellent reading.  I know it’ll stick in my memory for quite some time to come.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free for review from the publisher.

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