Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Teen/YA Review: Revolution

 I finally finished listening to the teen/YA novel Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (I don’t get much alone audio time during the summer!), and I was absolutely entranced by this unique novel that takes place in two different time periods and blends modern teen drama with historical fiction.

Seventeen-year old Andi is close to being expelled from her prestigious private school in Brooklyn Heights.  Her younger brother died recently, driving both her and her mother into deep depressions that each is dealing with in her own way.  Andi is so mired in grief and despair that she doesn’t even care about school anymore, just her music, but her scientist father isn’t about to let her fail.  During winter break, he brings her along with him on a trip to Paris, hoping the change of scenery will help and she’ll have time to work on the thesis she needs to graduate.

Once in Paris, Andi discovers an old diary, written by a teen girl named Alexandrine two hundred years earlier, during the French Revolution.  Alex wanted to be an actress, but instead took on a job as nanny to the young prince in order to help her poor family.  At first, the diary is just an escape for Andi, a way to forget about her own troubles and immerse herself in someone else’s life, but it becomes increasingly compelling and real to her, until the past and the present mingle.

Donnelly has written a unique and gripping novel, weaving together the present and the distant past through the parallel lives of these two young women.  Both Andi and Alex play the guitar, and music has a central role in the novel, with lots of references to both modern and classical music.  Revolution tackles some serious issues, including grief, depression, and suicide, as well as a thorough immersion in the French Revolution.  I found it all fascinating, and the audio was very well done, with excellent voice actors for both Andi and Alex.  This was the first Jennifer Donnelly novel I’ve read or listened to; I will definitely read another.

NOTE: This novel is best for older teens and young adults (and up!) with lots of references to drugs, alcohol, plus some serious issues such as depression and suicide (not to mention a bit of gruesomeness).

Listening Library

Listen to an excerpt:


Jan von Harz said...

I listen to this and absolutely loved it. I would agree however, that it is a older YA novel. Great review

Anne Bennett said...

I was very irritated by how whiny Andi was, especially in the beginning, otherwise I loved the story.