Revolution, by Jennifer Donnelly, spans both time and social status. In the present there is Andi, a musical prodigy who is about to get kicked out of her prestigious New York City school. She’s mad at her father for the divorce and at her mother for retreating into her own private shell. But mostly she’s in pain over the death of her younger brother, for which she blames herself.
In the past there’s Alexandrine, living through the bloody days of the French Revolution. Alex is a struggling actor who serves as nanny to Louis-Charles, the lost prince of France, and an unwilling spy for Duc d’Orleans.
Two centuries and an ocean apart – but all that changes when Andi’s father steps in and insists she go with him to Paris to complete her senior thesis. Andi finds Alex’s diary, hidden for 200 years in the secret compartment of an antique guitar case. As she reads the heartrending journal, Andi becomes obsessed. She is drawn into Alexandrine’s world of hunger and fear of arrest and death at the guillotine. But Andi faces her own demons, suffering from mental health issues and addiction to antidepressants, which confuse her mind and send her teetering on the edge of reality.
Music lovers will enjoy this book as both modern and classical music plays an important role in the story. Andi’s thesis is about the fictional mysterious French composer Amade Malherbeau, who supposedly inspired popular artists like Led Zeppelin. She meets an older French-Tunisian cab driver and hip-hop artist who introduces her to Paris’ local band scene. And, at times it seems that Andi’s music is the only thing that keeps her from jumping off the roof.
, Donnelly captures the decadent setting of historic Paris as well as the gritty street life of both the modern era and the past. She even manages to weave in the supernatural element to satisfy those fantasy readers. A powerful story with mature themes that will appeal to older teens.