Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: October 12, 2010
Format: Library book
BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.
PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.
Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her 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.--Goodreads
While reading Revolution, I was awestruck. Donnelly spins an intensely tragic, raw tale of two girls in two different times, but whose stories are the same. Both are hurt, angry, and desperate in a way that I hope to never know. Both want to act, want to make a mark, and want to go out with a bang. I couldn't get enough of it. I was racing through this book, praying my lunch breaks at work wouldn't end so that I didn't have to stop reading. But, of course, they would end.
So last night, I canceled my plans so I could go home and finish this book. (I'm not joking about that.) I read and read and read, and then, about 100 pages from the end, something happened. All of a sudden, Donnelly was using my LEAST FAVORITE narrative technique--the historical time travel.
I know what you're thinking--'But, Bethany, did you not read the summary of the book? It plainly states that "the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present."' Yeah, I got that, but I didn't think it was going to be literal. I mean, Andi is crawling around in the mothereffing Parisian catacombs while reading a diary from the French Revolution. That's pretty terrifyingly present if you ask me.
Anyway, after spending so much time and energy and emotion with Revolution, I found myself getting angry. The book had been so informed and smart and tonally solid and heart-wrenchingly beautiful that I didn't think it could go wrong. But when I got to the part where Andi enters the catacombs and starts talking to the "hot goth guy," I found that a conversation I'd had with a co-worker was coming true--she asked me how I was liking this book and I said, "I love it. I'm a little obsessed with it. But I'm afraid it's going to go to a weird time-travely place, and I really, really don't want it to go there." And as I sat there, at 1:00 AM, devouring this book, I realized that that's EXACTLY where it was going.
I was pissed.
I called my boyfriend and RAILED against it. I cussed the book in English, French, and maybe Pig Latin. He said, "Wow, you must really like this book to be so mad about this. Just calm down and finish it." [Mr. Bethany is sort of great.]
So that's what I did. And as I kept reading, I realized that while Donnelly did use the hated historical time travel technique, she also did something different with it, something that left it open to interpretation. So I'm going to interpret it as NOT historical time travel, and that makes me a much, much happier Bethie.
Overall, this book is fantastic. It's beautifully crafted, extremely well-researched, and has a V for Vendetta vibe to it. So, if that's your thing, or if you're a historical fiction nerd and Francophile like me, then you will adore this book. But I'm warning you, this book is not for the faint of heart (or stomach)--Donnelly spares no disgusting detail when describing the conditions of the French Revolution and there are a couple places that were a little hard for me, the girl with a History major and French minor, to get through. But hopefully that won't stop you from RUSHING to get this book. And if you do, clear your calendar. You won't be able to put it down.