Publisher: Delacorte Press
Revolution completely blew me away. Jennifer Donnelly has without a doubt written the best young adult novel of 2010. With beautifully crafted prose, this novel captures the heart and the mind and entangles them in the life of Andi Alpers, one of the most engaging protagonists to ever grace the pages of a novel. Andi and her eighteenth century counterpart Alexandrine’s struggles leap off the pages and truly draw the reader into the story. This folks is one of those novels that you read under your desk during class instead of balancing equations, even though you risk the wrath of your professor by doing so. It’s that good.
When we meet Andi Alpers, she is lost in grief. Her grades are falling, her heart is broken, and she just doesn’t know what to do with herself, except for playing her guitar. To top it off, she’s on the verge of being expelled. Enter the father that’s been absent from her life for months and months. He got a letter from the school about her abysmal grades, and now he wants to take her to Paris with him so he can make sure that she finishes the outline for her senior thesis. And he’s also putting her mother in a mental hospital. Sounds great, huh? Needless to say, Andi is very angry. Heck, I was angry for her when I read it. But when she gets to Paris she meets an amazing young man named Virgil and becomes entangled in the life of a young woman who died over two centuries before Andi was even born. This young woman of the French Revolution, Alexandrine Paradis, leads Andi on a journey that sets her on the path to healing the wound that has almost pushed her over the edge numerous times. The blend of modern and historical, fact and fiction, all adds up to create a novel like nothing else you’ve ever read.
Revolutions is so incredibly captivating that my attempt to review the main points of this novel turned into an entire re-reading. The moment I picked it up again, I just couldn’t put it down. The emotions, the history, the relationships, all seem so real. Immediately after finishing this book I began recommending it to everyone I know, from my best friend to my grandmother. The ending of this novel – it’s as far from floppy as you can possibly get. At first, I was a little bit saddened that Andi didn’t really get closure with her dad. But as her guitar instructor, Nathan, sagely tells her “This word closure…it is a stupid word, ja?” It wasn’t until after I read Revolution for the second time that I realized Andi really does make peace with her life and that maybe closure is a stupid word. The more I thought about it, the more I began to see applications in my own life. Everybody has their own pain, including me. I began to see that letting go of past suffering, but never closing the door on it, might be the best way to heal.
The big picture: Jennifer Donnelly created a masterpiece. Revolution truly transcends time, in more ways than one. Not just with its beautiful writing, captivating characters, or historic details, but with its ability to reach out and touch anyone who has ever felt lost.
*On a side note, reading this novel sparked an interest in the French Revolution that allowed me to better appreciate Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. After reading Revolution, I encourage anyone who did not like reading A Tale of Two Cities in school to give it another try.