Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

June 7, 2012
When most people think of history, they think of it as a long chain of boring events. Yet, Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution, will prove them wrong. She has the power to write an enthralling historical fiction book without making the reader bored to death.

Revolution brings together the story of two girls, Andi Alpers and Alexandrine Paradis. Andi lives in modern-day Brooklyn, New York, while Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago in Paris. Their lives are so different, yet terrifyingly similar. Andi blames herself for her brother’s death. It has affected her to the point where very few people would like to be around her. When she is about to get expelled from a prestigious private school, her father, who left the family, insists if she goes with him to Paris and completes her assignment, she will not be expelled. Andi is less than pleased but has no choice but to go.


Andi’s father, being a historian, has many pieces of history right at his fingertips. One is a diary, hidden in a “broken” guitar case. It is the diary of Alexandrine Paradis, only, nobody but Andi knows about it. She soon starts reading the diary, not wanting to be with her father and not wanting to be in Paris. She delves into a story of a girl who wants so badly to perform on a stage. Yet, she must take care of Louis-Charles, the son of King Louis XVI. The story takes both Andi and the reader of the book, on a journey to the time of the French Revolution.

Andi soon comes to realize how similar their situations are. As it says on the front flap of the book, “…she recognizes something in her [Alexandrine’s] 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.” I won’t give away what happens, but it is a truly moving book that is a great read for teens because not only does it make history more interesting, it is about much more than that. It’s about pain, grief, action, music, family, and even a little bit of romance. There’s something in there to please anyone.

The book, however great it was, also had some not-so-great aspects. The number one thing is, I warn you not to dive right into the book if you do not know anything, or know very little, about the French Revolution. The story has so many twists and turns that at some point, everyone is bound to get a little lost. However, if like me, you go into the book without knowing almost anything, it will be very hard to truly enjoy the book because you’ll always have to be stopping to research something or just to remember where you are or what happens when. The book is also a pretty intense. With everything Andi is dealing with, the book has a deep, dark undertone most of the time. However, it does start to change, and you will notice that.

Overall, the book is an amazing addition to the ever increasing amounts of historical fiction books there are out there. Yet this one is so different from the others. I would recommend this to almost anyone. It is truly a great read and very inspiring. I will never forget the message it sends. It’s up to you to turn away Revolution or to read the story of two girls, so different, yet so alike.





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