Indescribable Revolution

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly; published by Delacorte Press, New York, 2010; 472 pages.

It was all her fault and the guilt is eating her alive, starting with her sanity.  Andi Alpers watched her beloved little brother die unnecessarily one December morning, and in the two years since, the tragedy has taken its toll on her in so many ways.  Aside from the drugs (prescribed and self-medicating), her mother has sunken into a deeply profound depression, her father has left the family unofficially as he immerses himself in his science, and her senior year at Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school is about to implode on her.  When her father returns home to find the dysfunction at home, he commits his wife to an asylum and takes Andi with him to Paris for winter break.  Can the combination of Paris, the French Revolution, a 200 year old girl, music, and an incredibly hot musician somehow bring Andi back from the edge of disaster?

I could not put this book down.  Okay, I only put it down to grab my iPod Touch and play the songs Andi mentions throughout the book.  Music plays a significant role in this book, literally becoming a character unto itself.  All obligations fell aside so I could finish this book in a single reading.  I love historical fiction, I love realistic fiction, and I love fantasy or supernatural/ghost stories.  Somehow, Jennifer Donnelly has captured what I love about all three genres and blended them into a highly readable book.  And as I proofread this paragraph, I realize just how badly I have failed to express the impact of this book.  Alas, I guess you’ll just have to read it for yourself.  Apparently, many young adults have done just that as it was selected in the Top Ten list of Best Fiction for Young Adults of 2010.

I did stop to play some of the music mentioned throughout the book.  If you’re interested in doing the same thing, and I think you’ll want to as the songs help describe the state of mind of the characters, you can check out the playlist on YALSA’s blog, The Hub, here.  If any of the history sparks your interest, or if you’re a librarian or teacher interested in a book discussion, you will want to read over the Reader’s Guide from the publisher (http://www.randomhouse.biz/booksellers/childrens/files/2010/08/Revolution_ReaderGuide_WEB.pdf).  The author has also included an extensive bibliography/webliography at the end of the novel.

5P     4Q     Grade Level: 8-12

Cover Art: the yin-yang of Andi and Alex, black-and-white and color, photo and painting, capture the story.  The juxtaposition should generate enough interest that this book will be picked up and the jacket flap read.

From Reading List: Best Fiction for Young Adults (Top Ten) 2010

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