Andi Alpers, a troubled Brooklyn teen, is always one step away from the edge. The only thing keeping her going over is her love of music, but even that doesn't seem enough at times. Two years ago her younger brother, the glue keeping her family together, died. Now her mother, a talented French painter, is suffering from a psychotic break down, and her father, a workaholic scientist, refuses to acknowledge his old family while he lives a new life. Andi is content with flunking out of her prestigious liberal high school, but her father, in a rare burst of parental concern, forces her to come with him to Paris so she can focus on working on a project that might save her grade. Her father is called to Paris because a colleague of his, a famous historian, needs his help in identifying a shriveled up heart encased in crystal that might just belong to the young Louis XVII, the son of King Louis XVI, who was guillotined in the French Revolution. While shifting through some artifacts, Andi discovers the long-hidden journal of Alexandrine, an aspiring actress and companion to young Louis, who is struggling to save herself and her charge. Whilst reading this diary, the fates of the two young women are woven together, and Andi will come to discover that internal revolutions are just as affecting as external ones.
I loved this book. It was lovely. The writing was beautiful, lyrical, and intricate. Andi was intriguing and relatable. Sometimes her constant negative attitude, especially towards the beginning, could become bothersome, but she was extremely interesting. Her sarcastic comments were often funny, and she had a lot going on underneath the surface. Her feelings, as well as her love for music, seemed to transcend the page. I loved Alexandrine too. Although she was in the book less than Andi, her role in it was just as vital. One thing I loved about this story was how everything connected. I could mentally see the puzzle pieces coming together, and it was a thrill to watch everything unfold. Also, I learned a buttload about the French Revolution, but it never seemed like I was reading a text book. I can tell Ms. Donnelly did her research, and it was very in-depth and well-done.
The only thing I did not like were the hints of the supernatural. To explain myself without giving away to much of the plot, I will say that this book is a lot like the movie Happy Feet. I do not mean to allude that there were dancing penguins in the streets of Paris. But, you know how towards the end of the movie, the plot does a complete 360, and the film is no longer about cute tap-dancing birds, but rather some heavy-handed environmental message? This book is kind of like that. Towards the end, it took a really sharp turn, and I'm not sure whether what happened was real or not. I mean, I guess it worked, but it shook me out of the story for a little bit. That's what kept me from giving this novel 5 stars.
Anyway, I recommend this book. I recommend it to fans of A Northern Light
. I recommend it to fans of historical-fiction. I recommend it to those interested in a more personal look at the French Revolution. I recommend it to music lovers. And I recommend it for anyone looking for a satisfying, thought-provoking read.
An awesome read that will stay with me. I have a feeling it will help me when my history class studies the French Revolution next month.