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Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

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Okay, so I finished reading Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly today. It’s been on my list for a while and I finally got around to it this week. So let’s chat. Here’s the basic idea of the book: There’s this teenage girl named Andi who is obviously going through something profound. Her little brother is dead, and you get the feeling early on that she was responsible in some way. She’s devastated and can’t cope and a little suicidal at times. She’s also brilliant and gifted musically. Her parents care but aren’t that helpful–seeing as how her dad is a workaholic and her mom ends up in a mental hospital. But she ends up with her dad in Paris, working on her senior thesis. And while this is happening, she finds an old diary. Really old. Like from the Revolution. It’s written by a girl named Alex, and Andi connects with her and becomes enthralled by her story. 

That’s the basic premise. First let me say that this wasn’t a super quick read for me. I would have liked to have just read it straight through, but some parts were a little slower–not in a bad way, just descriptive and such, and some of the material feels heavy because it’s about difficult subject matter. And I have a husband and two children and work–so, yeah, it took me a little longer to get through this book. Totally worth it, though. As soon as I realized why Andi’s dad needed to take this trip to Paris–to test a heart’s DNA to see if it belonged to Louis XVII–I knew I was going to be hooked on this story, whether I wanted to be or not. I’m very fascinated (and a little disturbed) by the Revolution time period and the story of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and the lost king of France, etc. It’s such a tragic story.

Here’s what I loved about this book: Andi’s character, for one thing. She’s damaged and struggling, but you want her to pull through this. Her pain is so well-written that you can feel it. Second, Alex’s story. Also tragic but fused with hope and determination. Third, this is another book that’s full of references to music. In fact, on the author’s website, you can find her Revolution playlist. Very cool. Fourth, the historical aspect is fascinating for someone like me (who really likes historical fiction). Spoiler* Andi takes a trip back in time to the Revolution and is mistaken for Alex, and sort of becomes Alex, finishing what she couldn’t. You’re never sure if it really happened or if it was all in Andi’s head–but that doesn’t really matter. What matters is what it does for Andi (and Alex). I loved this twist in the story. It really brought the history aspect to life. 

In some ways, this book reminded me of Chateau of Echoes by Siri Mitchell, which is one of my favorite books. So, I highly recommend this one. Be prepared that it’s not really a light read, though. We’re talking loss, depression, bloody time period in history–of course, there’s also music, hope, and inspiration. Great story.  

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About Brandy

Brandy Bruce is an author, editor, wife, mother, and someone who really loves dessert. She has a BA in English from Liberty University. She currently works as a freelance editor--reading, writing, editing, and making good use of online dictionaries. She's married to Jeff and has three beautiful children.

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