Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, UK edition cover.

Title: Revolution
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Genre:  Historical Novel, Romance, Young Adult
Publisher:  Bloomsbury( 3rd October 2011)

Andi is broken. She is failing school and failing life. Since the death of her brother, all she cares about is music. Taken to Paris by her estranged father, she makes a discovery that could transform everything. Hidden in the compartment of an old guitar case is a lost diary from Revolutionary France . . .

Alexandrine is a street performer who is trying to save a young life from the devastation of war. She writes her deepest thoughts in her diary, hoping that one day someone will read them and understand.

These two girls, though centuries apart, are tied together by more than just the diary. As its words transcend paper and time, Alexandrine’s past becomes Andi’s present and lives are changed for ever.

Rating: ****
(4 stars)

Revolution is a stand-alone young adult novel half set in Brooklyn, New York and half set in Paris, France both in the present day and during the late 1700s whilst the French Revolution is reaching its peak.

Revolution is a story about loss and hope at its core. At times the narrative is heart-breaking, and it is not always easy to read particularly the events occurring during the French Revolution, though some of the events set in the modern-day are not easy either. The title of the book is apt, and not only because of its ties to the French Revolution, but because of a series of events that fall-out because of the discovery of a diary.

As the book blurb states, when we first meet Andi she is broken. She’s given up. Even her father taking her to Paris isn’t enough to change this, and then she discovers Alexandrine’s diary. Alexandrine is the most interesting character for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like Andi but there’s just something about Alexandrine.  She is very driven, and at one both innocent and knowing. Then Alexandrine meets someone – I won’t say who here, as I don’t want to spoil is for anyone – and something changes. I found it interesting to read this transformation, and her bravery. I also found myself empathizing with her.

The pacing of the book was brilliantly done. I also liked the way Jennifer Donnelly wrote the scenes set in the French Revolution. It was nice to see that although this is a fiction book Donnelly has done her research well, she’s even included a bibliography which is several pages long. I really enjoyed reading this. If you like books like 13 Reasons Why and historical fiction then you should definitely give this book a try.

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