Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Original Publication Date: October 12, 2010
Overall Grade: 5 out of 5 stars (*****)
Revolution, Jennifer Donnelly’s remarkable new novel, weaves together the lives of Andi Alpers, a depressed modern-day teenager, and Alexandrine Paradis, a brave young woman caught up in the French Revolution. While in Paris with her estranged father, a Nobel geneticist hired to match the DNA of a heart said to belong to the last dauphin of France, Andi discovers a diary hidden within a guitar case–and so begins the story of Alexandrine, who herself had close ties to the dauphin. Redemption and the will to change are powerful themes of the novel, and music is ever present–Andi and Alex have a passion for the guitar, and the playlist running through Revolution is a who’s who of classic and contemporary influences. Danger, intrigue, music, and impeccably researched history fill the pages of Revolution, as both young women learn that, “it is love, not death, that undoes us.”
—Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.com
I had read “A Northern Light” by Jennifer Donnelly years ago, and her brilliant writing approach to historical fiction prompted me to take on “Revolution” with little insistence.
Revolution is a novel about the revolution each person has inside of themselves at one point or another in their life. The revolution of thought or resistance to ideas that we’ve been taught to accept without question. Andi is a relatable character, full of faults and a few virtues scattered here and there. Her passion and obsession for music is believable in the sense that when she lives for her music, she truly means it. She displays suicidal tendencies, and due to the sudden loss of her young brother, Truman, she does all she can to escape the world and the feelings that she was responsible for his death. This includes pills that numb her into oblivion.
The switching of viewpoints between Andi and Alex was easy to follow, although at times portions of Alex’s story read dryly—nearly textbook in the way the prose was delivered. I truly enjoyed reading of Andi’s struggle with the revolution happening inside of her.
Should she end her life to see Truman again?
Or should she step away from the ledge and live for him?
Those questions are answered in a delicate way, as this book deals with depression, anxiety, suicide, death, living, mental illness, drugs, and alcohol in a way that is fresh and doesn’t preach to its audience. “Revolution” is an excellent novel from an author that deserves recognition in the Young Adult fiction community.