If you’re a history buff or a music buff, this is absolutely the book for you. Andi Alpers is a senior in high school who is holding her life together by a very thin thread. Her younger brother was tragically killed two years earlier and her family has since fallen apart. The only things that keep her going are caring for her mom, popping antidepressants and her music. Andi is a guitar aficionado. When her father finds out that she might not graduate from high school, he takes her to Paris for the three week Christmas vacation in an effort to get her to focus on her school work. In Paris, a family friend gives her a very old guitar and she finds a diary inside a secret compartment within the guitar case. The diary belonged to a girl named Alexandrine who was intimately involved with the French Revolution and the royal family. Andi becomes as obsessed with the diary and the story surrounding it.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t like history. It was never my favorite class, and analyzing why these people were mean to those people has never been my thing. So when someone recommended that I read Revolution – a book basically about the French Revolution – I was skeptical. That and the music from Les Misérables kept running through my head. But the premise intrigued me, so I decided to give it a try. And I, like Andi, was completely swept up in the story and could not put the book down. The struggles Andi experiences in the book – her bitterness towards her father, her self-hatred for what happened to her brother, her desire to save her mother but lose herself – paired with the struggles Alexandrine faced are so real and poinient, the reader can’t help but get caught up in their lives. And Donnelly has some awesome lines: “What is it that mends broken people? Jesus? Chocolate? New shoes? (p 137), “Because after all the shattered hopes, after all the blood and death, we woke as if from a nightmare only to find that the ugly still are not beautiful and the dull still do not sparkle. That this one sings better than that one. And he got the position I wanted…And no writ, no bill, no law, nor declaration will ever change it” (p 286-287). Lines like these cause the reader to really think about the situations that Andi and Alexandrine found themselves in. I also loved that Donnelly provided a bibliography at the end, so if I were so inclined, I could continue my research on the French Revolution. And Donnelly did such an amazing job with this book, I just might have to.