Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Started: February 2, 2011
Finished: February 25, 2011
Format: Hardback--My last book purchased from the Border's in Mesquite, Texas. I am in mourning.
Goal: 5 of 25
I first fell in love with Jennifer Donnelly's writing when I read A Northern Light, which is still one of my favorite YA books, so I was thrilled when I found out that Donnelly had written another YA book. Revolution uses the same "formula" as Northern Light: two girls from two different time periods are connected by a diary and a dark secret, but that is where the similarities end. These are two totally different books, but Revolution ranks right up there with Northern Light; it is sensational.
I escaped into the 472 pages of this book for most of February. It kept me warm during the snow days, and it provided stress-relief as the rest of the month whizzed by. I read it slowly (until the end), savoring every word because I wanted it to last. This book took me to the streets of Brooklyn, the catacombs of Paris, and into the heart of the French Revolution, a time period I did not know much about. Impeccably researched and beautifully written, Revolution was a great way to spend my February.
But I don't think this book is for everyone. This is not an easy read, and if you are not a fan of historical fiction then I'm not sure if you will enjoy it. Andi's story is dark and disturbing; she reminded me of some of my angst-ridden former high school students who had to shoulder too much tragedy in their young lives. Andi's voice is an authentic portrayal of a 21st century teenager who is dealt a bad hand in life. When Andi finds a diary, it brings in the voice of Alex, a brave young woman who lived during THE Revolution, and Donnelly switches effortlessly between the two strong voices of two girls who lived two centuries apart. She weaves the stories together in such an astounding way that left me frantically turning pages and staying up way too late last week to see how it all ended. I was not disappointed. Thankfully, Revolution has a "happy" ending, and it will stay with me for a long time.
Simply put, I LOVED this book. It's historical fiction, but it also has elements of romance, mystery, and realistic fiction; it has funny parts, sad parts, sweet parts, horrifying parts--really this book has it all. It also has the BEST example of "Show Don't Tell" writing that I've read in a long time. It comes in Alex's diary when she describes the palace of Versailles:
"The women with all spun sugar hair and bosoms as white as meringue. The men in frock coats cut so close they daren't breathe, lace dripping from their cuffs, jewels winking on their fingers. The king walks in. He nods. His glance is like God's touch--under it all things spring to life. A wave of his hand and a hundred musicians tear into Handel, making a sound you've never heard before...A sound that goes through you , through flesh and bone, and reorders the very beat of your heart." ~p. 146
And here is Andi's voice:
"I don't like hope very much. In fact, I hate it. It's the crystal meth of emotions. It hooks you fast and kills you hard. It's bad news. The worst. It's sharp sticks and cherry bombs. When hope shows up, it's only a matter of time until someone gets hurt." ~p. 200
And even though this is Alex's voice, it is what both Andi and Alex must come to terms with:
"I am not afraid of beatings or blood anymore. I'm not afraid of guards or guillotines. There is only one thing I fear now--love. For I have seen it and I have felt it and I know that it is love, not death, that undoes us." ~p. 302
Read Revolution and let me know if it resonates with you.