Thursday, February 3, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

I got this book as an advanced reader's copy back in October, right before the author was coming to our bookstore to do a signing. I didn't get to go to the signing because it was right when our parent teacher conferences are, so didn't feel the urge to pick it up and get it read. Now that I have however, I am very excited to go back and read her first teen book, A Northern Light.

Revolution is a historical fiction about the French Revolution. Our main character is Andi, she goes to a very exclusive school called St. Anselm's in Brooklyn. Her father is a famous geneticist, and her mother an artist. However, her brother died a couple years ago, and we don't find out exactly how until later in the story, but we get some kind of idea, that Andi, who is hanging out with pot smokers and druggies from her school, may have been somehow responsible for his death. Andi is currently not able to do anything other than her music lessons. Music is the only thing that makes her feel okay. As she gets close to flunking out and messing up her chances of getting into a good college, her father who left the family, comes home. He sees that her mother is a mess and puts her mother in a hospital. He then makes Andi go with him to Paris. In Paris he will be working to prove whether a heart preserved in a glass jar is really Louis-Charles, son of Marie Antoinette's heart. While Andi is there she is expected to work on her thesis for school, which is kind of handy because the person she is researching is from Paris, his name is Amade Malherbeau, and supposedly he came up with some of the unusual note combinations modern musicians use today. The people Andi and her dad stay with are old friends of theirs. The man is a historian and the woman is an artist. They have all kinds of historical documents and artifacts where they are living because they are preparing to turn the building into a museum. There is even a guitar from the time of the French Revolution, and Andi finds a secret compartment in which there is a diary and a picture of Louis-Charles. The diary is of a girl who was a servant to him and how she tried to be there for him in whatever way she could, even when he was walled up alone in his final prison.

I loved this story, could barely put it down when I needed to. It made me eager to read more about this time period. I think a good historical fiction is one that makes you want to learn the real stories, and this totally does it. I could even see it being read in a classroom to tie in both literature and history. As I said, I will now have to go back and get her book A Northern Light and read it soon.