Jo Bennie's Reviews > Revolution

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
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's review
Feb 24, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: d
Read in February, 2012

Andi is in many ways a poor little rich girl, in her senior year at St Anselm's prestigious expensive school in Brooklyn, New York. She is largely ignored by her father with his new girlfriend, a brilliant geneticist in pursuit of his dream of unlocking the genome. But she is engulfed in an ocean of depression and grief, tortured by her inability to save her little brother Truman and struggling to provide for her equally stricken artist mother, who does little but paint pictures of her lost son. Andi is failing at school, well, in all areas but music. It is only here that she feels understood. Her music teacher Nathan who does not tell her to get over her grief, but shows her how to express it through her exquisite guitar playing.

When Andi's father arrives at the house he is horrified and takes action. He puts Andi's mother in hospital and takes Andi with him to Paris to write the outline for her thesis on Amande Malherbeau, a French composer who wrote his music to the backdrop of Revolutionary France. Her father has been engaged by his friend G to undertake the examination of a heart thought to be that of the lost King of France, Louis XVII, son of the guillotined Louis XVI. Andi's father leaves her at G's house, a theatre which G is transforming into a museum of the Revolution.

Andi is at first determined to return to her mother and strikes a deal with her father to have the outline finished in time to return to her within a week, but then she finds the diary of Alexandrine and is drawn back to Revolutionary France. And when she is busking and meets Jules and Virgil, boys from the impoverished banlieue of Clichy, something begins to reach through the haze of drugs and grief that cloak her and draw her back to life.

Extremely good on the sense of being a teenager and struggling with such painful issues at a time when emotions are turbulent enough, but I just felt that at times the plot was a little obvious and forced. Still powerful enough to keep me reading through the night, and very well informed, the sections on both modern day but especially Revolutionary France are evocative and detailed.

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