Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Love. Loss. Liberty.
Andie Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and angry at the world for taking her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And her father has determined that Andi’s accompanying him to Paris over winter break is the solution to everything.
But Paris is a city of ghosts for Andi. And when she finds a centuries-old diary, the ghosts begin to walk off the page. Alexandrine, the owner of the journal, knew heartbreak also, and Andi finds comfort in the girl’s words. Until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.
I received this book for my birthday from my best friend, Colleen. She explained that it’s one of her favorites and was surprised that I hadn’t read it. She bought it for me as part of my birthday gift last month. I was intrigued by the premise and got so much more than I expected from this story.
I generally don’t pick out historical fiction as a genre I read often, but when I do they are usually excellent books. Revolution certainly fills that standard. An excellent story it was for sure. Growing up in the United States, I learned primarily about American history doing my schooling. So going into this book I didn’t know very much about the French Revolution. I learned so much in this book that I didn’t previously know. I was a little worried I was going to be bored once the journal entries started and I realized that this was a historical fiction novel. I was not bored in the slightest. The back and forth between Andi’s story and Alex’s story kept it interesting. History is not one of my favorite subjects so it was nice to have Andi’s story to break up the massive amounts of information we were getting from Alex.
I liked all of the characters in this book. Andi is a deeply troubled girl. After losing her brother, she’s drowing in grief and blames herself for his death. She almost kills herself many times. I think the best thing this book did was accurately portray grief. Loosing someone you love can overwhelm you and take over your life. It can be so hard to deal with and move forward from that it consumes you and nothing else seems like it matters. I feel as if this story also accurately portrays depression and anxiety. Andi is so deep in her own troubles, taking too many of her pills that are supposed to be helping. Hallucinating, suicidal, she’s a girl with many problems. But these problems made her real. They made her relatable. I also like that at the ending they weren’t just magically resolved. She still had her problems, but she was slowly pulling herself out of the hole she was in and moving forward. She’s not cured but she’s trying.
Alex was an impressive character. Being alive during the French Revolution is not something I would want. She’s a character that also knows hardship and grief, but she deals with it differently than Andi. She’s fiercely loyal and incredibly brave. She fights for what she believes in and does her best to do the right thing for the people she loves. I wish she had met a better end, but the Revolution was a hard time to live in.

“I will go out again this very night with my rockets and fuses. I will blow them straight out of their comfortable beds. Blow the rooftops off their houses. Blow the black, wretched night to bits. I will not stop. For I mad I may be, but I will never be convenient.”

Revolution had some great supporting characters. Andi’s best friend back home was great. He knew she was having a hard time and did his best to be there for her even while she was in another country. Andi manages to make some friends while she’s in Paris and I loved them. Virgil is a total dream boat. He’s totally into Andi even if she doesn’t realize it for a while. He’s sweet and caring, but also intelligent with goals for his life. I totally loved him for Andi. He was supportive of her, even when she was being a totally bitch.
The last aspect of this book I want to talk about was the music. Books and music are two of my favorite things, but I can’t play or write music to save my life. This story features several musicians that use music to soothe their soul. Music is Andi’s passion and I love that we really see her come alive when she’s playing or listening to or talking about music. It played a huge part in this book and I really loved it. It was super interesting to read about, even for someone that doesn’t understand anything about making music.

“I’m wishing that he could see that music lives. Forever. That it’s stronger than death. Stronger than time. And that its strength holds you together when nothing else can.”

Overall, I totally loved this story. My only complaint is that the ending felt as if it was a little bit rushed. Andi spent so much time walking around Paris and reading Alex’s journal that I was already 300+ pages in before the real action happened. Even the epilogue felt rushed. We were told everything about Andi’s life one year later. There was definitely some opportunity to ‘show not tell’ toward the end of the book and the opposite toward the middle of the story. I loved the characters. I love that I learned about history and music. I loved this book.

“Every heart is made of stories.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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One thought on “Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

  1. Pingback: ABC Book Challenge |R| – Classy x Book Reviews

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