Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
September 05, 2012
Andi hasn't been herself for...well, about the last two years. Can it have really been two years since her brother Truman's death? It feels more like yesterday. She is in her senior year at St. Anselm's, a fancy prep school for genius rich kids in NYC, but the only thing she's paying attention to is her music class. The only thing she cares about is her music anymore, and her mom. When she gets home every night, she checks to see that her mom has enough paints and something to eat. All Mom does anymore is paint portraits of Truman...she's not really coping well, to say the least. At least she isn't throwing things anymore.
When St. Anselm's threatens to kick her out of school and sends a letter home, she doesn't think anything of it until her dad flies in for a surprise visit. Suddenly, her mom is institutionalized, and she's on a forced trip to Paris with him. He's a world famous geneticist, known for his work on the human genome. This visit to Paris is work related; he's been asked to verify if a heart - found in a jar - could possibly have belonged to Louis-Charles, the son of Louis and Marie Antoinette.
Andi wants nothing to do with the whole thing. It's too sad, not to mention Louis-Charles looks strikingly like Truman. She just wants to go back home and see her mom. The doctor won't even let her talk to her mom! So she makes a deal. She'll finish her thesis (which is a requirement for graduation), and in exchange, she can go home early. It's while she's rifling through G's papers that she finds the guitar, and it's a moment of frustration that leads her to try the key (Truman's key) in the lock. Andi uncovers a secret panel containing a diary...written at the time of the French Revolution. Could it really be over 200 years old?
Down on her luck and out of cash, she meets Jules. Hungry and cold, they go to Remy's to play for their supper. It's there that she meets Virgil. "And...like, wow, but he's fine," (Donnelly pg. 125). They all play together with Virgil MC-ing. He drives her home and asks her to come out on Sunday...but she'll be on a plane back to New York by then. So what's the point, right? Then, he calls early the next morning to let her know that she left her iPod in his car. They talk about music, and end up singing each other to sleep.
Determined to finish her thesis outline on time, Andi renews her research, but the diary keeps distracting her. It's written by a girl, Alexandrine, who is a companion to Louis-Charles, the prince. Could it be true? The diary tells of the Revolution and of the horrible treatment of the prince, and of Alex's desperate attempt to save him. She becomes the Green Man, setting off fireworks to let Louis-Charles know that he is not forgotten. Andi starts seeing things, strange things, but it's probably just her meds. She needs to quit taking so much.
One night they end up in the catacombs, and that's when things get really weird. I loved this story, how complex it was (incorporating music, science, history), but so effortless to read. I loved the different voices of the characters and the juxtaposition (comparing side by side) of the present day with Revolutionary rance. This is a Missouri Gateway Award nominee, and I will be recommending it to everyone I can.
"If I had coal and fire
And metal fine and true
I'd make an iron band
An iron band for you
I'd pick up all the pieces
From where they fell that day
Fit them back together
And take the pain away," (Donnellly pg. 157, 2010).
If you liked this, check out:
- A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
- The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
- Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Donnelly, Jennifer. (2010). Revolution. New York: Delacorte Press.
South Independence Branch