Saturday, August 20, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

This author also wrote the loosely historical fiction teen comming of age novel A Northern Light which I very much enjoyed both for its history and for its strong female protaganist. Revolution is a much more ambitious historical piece with another strong female lead. Andi has had a triple tragedy the past year. First her beloved little brother died in a way that perhaps she could have prevented then her parent's already rocky marriage finally and irreparably falls apart and her mother along with it. Andi is on antidepressants as a result. They tend to have a side effect of causing hallucinations. Andi is trying to care for herself and her mother, grieve her brother's death and turn in her outline for her senior thesis at a private school for wealthy, artistically talented high schoolers. When the school sends Andi's failing grades to her absent father, he appears, puts her mother in a mental institute for help and wisks Andi off to Paris where he is doing dna testing on a well preserved heart which could prove to be that of the son of Louis XVI who was beheaded during the French Revolution. It had been Andi's plan to do a research paper on a somewhat obscure and creative guitarist of that same time period. Now her father has demanded that she turn in her outline and introduction to him by the end of her time in Paris. Andi is a gifted guitarist and very knowledgeable about the history and evolution of guitar music. She has been to Paris before, she knows the language and knows her way around. She and her father are staying with friends. Every one has his or her own busy schedul leaving Andi mostly on her own. The night of her arrival she is handed a guitar which had recently been found in the catacombs under Paris and is believed to be from the French Revolution Period. Andi discovers a secret compartment with a diary inside. From this diary, she has a very detailed account of the beginning and almost ending of the revolution including the death of the small son of Louis XVI heir to the French throne. Andi finds herself drawn into the story told in the diary until she is no longer present in real time. This happens while waiting in a historical library for books on her subject and also when with other gifted musicians she has met in Paris, perhaps aided by the use of antidepressants. She meets the musician subject of her thesis, becomes the young woman whose diary she is reading, and ultimately survives now much stronger than she was before. While the revolution was well researched and no doubt true to history, there is way too much detail for me and I suspect most teens. I enjoyed the history of guitar music woven within though. Andi, being gifted, bilingual, enrolled in a special school and accostumed to travelling to and in Paris may make this story hard for many teens to relate to however well written the novel. JDW 8/11

No comments: