From the Publisher
WINNER - 2011 Young Adult Book of the Year - American Booksellers Association
An ALA-YALSA Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book
#1 Indiebound Pick for Fall 2010
A School Library Journal Best Book
A Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
A Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Book
Amazon.com Best Book of the Year
[STAR] “Andi Alpers, a 17-year-old music lover, is about to be expelled from her elite private school. Despite her brilliance, she has not been able to focus on anything except music since the death of her younger brother, which pushed the difficulties in her family to the breaking point. She resists accompanying her work-obsessed father to Paris, especially after he places her mentally fragile mother in a hospital, but once there works in earnest on her senior thesis about an 18th-century French musician. But when she finds the 200-year-old diary of another teen, Alexandrine Paradis, she is plunged into the chaos of the French Revolution. Soon, Alex’s life and struggles become as real and as painful for Andi as her own troubled life. Printz Honor winner Donnelly combines compelling historical fiction with a frank contemporary story. Andi is brilliantly realized, complete and complex. The novel is rich with detail, and both the Brooklyn and Paris settings provide important grounding for the haunting and beautifully told story.”
-Kirkus Reviews, Starred
[STAR] “Every detail is meticulously inscribed into a multi-layered narrative that is as wise, honest, and moving as it is cunningly worked…The interplay between the contemporary and the historical is seamless in both plot and theme, and the storytelling grips hard and doesn’t let go. Readers fascinated with French history, the power of music, and/or contemporary realist fiction will find this brilliantly crafted work utterly absorbing.”
-The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred
[STAR] "Andi Alpers’s younger brother died two years ago and his death has torn her family apart. She’s on antidepressants and is about to flunk out of her prep school. Her mother spends all day painting portraits of her lost son and her father has all but disappeared, focusing on his Nobel Prize-winning genetics work. He reappears suddenly at the beginning of winter break to institutionalize his wife and whisk Andi off to Paris with him. There he will be conducting genetic tests on a heart rumored to belong to the last dauphin of France. He hopes that Andi will be able to put in some serious work on her senior thesis regarding mysterious 18th-century guitarist Amadé Malherbeau. In Paris, Andi finds a lost diary of Alexandrine Paradis, companion to the dauphin, and meets Virgil, a hot Tunisian-French world-beat hip-hop artist. Donnelly’s story of Andi’s present life with her intriguing research and growing connection to Virgil overshadowed by depression is layered with Alexandrine’s quest, first to advance herself and later to somehow save the prince from the terrors of the French Revolution. While teens may search in vain for the music of the apparently fictional Malherbeau, many will have their interest piqued by the connections Donnelly makes between classical musicians and modern artists from Led Zeppelin to Radiohead. Revolution is a sumptuous feast of a novel, rich in mood, character, and emotion. With multiple hooks, it should appeal to a wide range of readers."
-School Library Journal, Starred
“…sharply articulated, raw emotions and insights into science and art; ambition and love; history’s ever-present influence; and music’s immediate, astonishing power…”
"Even kids who don’t usually like historical fiction won’t be able to put Revolution down, especially given its great modern-day story."
"Before the book is done ... we'll have taken a long strange trip of our own in Andi's company: back and forth between present-tense Andi and past-tense Alexandrine, between contemporary Paris and the filthy, terrorized streets of Robespierre's day, and deep into the clammy, bone-filled catacombs that underlie the city and where, in this ... memorable novel, past and present connect in a frightening, disorienting fashion."
-The Wall Street Journal
"As in her previous novel for young adults, the award-winning A Northern Light, Jennifer Donnelly combines impeccable historical research with lively, fully fashioned characters to create an indelible narrative. Revolution is a complex story, moving back and forth in time and including allusions not only to historical events but also to literature (especially Dante’s Divine Comedy) and to music from Handel to Wagner to Radiohead. Yet this undeniably cerebral book is also simultaneously wise and achingly poignant."
“This beautiful and complicated story effortlessly blends history, romance, music and tragedy into a must-read about two girls who connect across centuries.”
"I could say that I recommend Revolution to lovers of music and historical fiction (which I do), but that is not enough. The story is an impressive blend of contemporary fiction and historical fiction, with heart-wrenching character development."
"Revolution is an exciting foray into history, music and grief. It's a melodic story of love and friendship—of bonds that tie time together.”
-The Daily Monacle (blog)
"Rich and ambitious...Beautifully written and thoroughly researched."-The Guardian (UK)
Donnelly (A Northern Light) melds contemporary teen drama with well-researched historical fiction and a dollop of time travel for a hefty read that mostly succeeds. Andi Alpers is popping antidepressants and flunking out of her Brooklyn prep school, grieving over her younger brother's death. She finds solace only when playing guitar. When the school notifies her mostly absent scientist father that she's flirting with expulsion, he takes Andi to Paris for Christmas break, where he's testing DNA to see if a preserved heart really belonged to the doomed son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Andi is ordered to work on her senior thesis about a (fictional) French composer. Bunking at the home of a renowned historian, Andi finds a diary that relates the last days of Alexandrine, companion to (you guessed it) the doomed prince. The story then alternates between Andi's suicidal urges and Alexandrine's efforts to save the prince. Donnelly's story goes on too long, but packs in worthy stuff. Musicians, especially, will appreciate the thread about the debt rock owes to the classics. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Jennifer Lehmann
Andi Alpers doesn't expect to be saved by a girl who'd lived two centuries ago. She expects to fall apart completely. Her little brother is dead. Her mother is going crazy. She has stopped caring about her schoolwork and may not graduate. Even her music is not holding back the pain anymore. Her father finally learns of the severity of the situation and steps in to hospitalize her mother and take Andi to Paris with him. He is in France to confirm whether a child's heart is the heart of the son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who died walled up in a tower during the French Revolution. Andi is there to work on her senior thesis, but finds the journal of Alexandrine Paradis. Alex was an actress who became the companion of the young prince. Her journal pulls Andi into the devastating world of the Revolution and both brings her to the depths of her depression and gives her lasting hope. Readers unfamiliar with the over-medicated and under-supervised world of the New York upper class may find the first chapters difficult to identify with, but once Andi arrives in France, the setting, both in the present and in the journal, becomes as real and as vibrant as the characters. Both Andi and Alex tell their stories in the first person, and Donnelly has done a masterful job of creating two distinct voices, yet intertwining them seamlessly and making each story gripping. The surrounding characters add dimensions to Andi's life, with humor from her best friend Vijay and the spark of love interest from Virgil, a hot French rapper. Revolution combines the best aspects of modern young adult fiction with unique insight into the brutal effects of the French Revolution. Reviewer: Jennifer Lehmann
VOYA - Marlyn Beebe
The book begins with Andi and some of her classmates at the weekly Friday morning breakfast party, where each gets high in her or his own way before heading to school. Oh, no! Not another teen-angst tale! While it is that, it is so much more. Andi Alpers is a senior at St. Anselm's, a prestigious private school in Brooklyn, New York. Her seven-year-old brother, Truman, was killed in a traffic accident two years earlier, and Andi blames herself because she was supposed to be looking after him. She lives with her artist mother in an apartment, and her father, a Nobel-prize-winning geneticist who left after his son's death, is now involved with a much younger woman. Andi's grades have slipped in all her classes except music, which, along with antidepressants, is her escape. She has managed to keep her academic and emotional problems from her mother, who is suffering in her own way, continually painting portraits of Truman. Andi arrives home one evening to find her father waiting for her. He has his wife admitted to a psychiatric hospital and informs Andi that she will be accompanying him to Paris for her winter break and working on the outline for her senior thesis. In Paris, Andi is given an old guitar wich contains diary that belonged to Alexandrine Paradis, daughter of a family of entertainers. As Andi becomes engrossed in the diary, she becomes more and more interested not only in doing research for her thesis about an eighteenth-century French composer named Amade Malherbeau but also in a young French musician she meets in a club. This relatively hefty volume might not work for the readers of Lurlene McDaniel, but give it to those who love Gregory Maguire or Libba Bray. Reviewer: Marlyn Beebe
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Andi Alpers is from Brooklyn Heights, NY, and is trying to come to terms with her scientist father's abandonment, her mother's mental illness, and her bother's tragic death which caused it all. About to be expelled from her private school, Andi's father demands that she accompany him to Paris to work on her senior thesis about an 18th-century French musician which she has been neglecting while he conducts tests on a heart that might have belonged to the last dauphin of France. Andi discovers a 200-year-old diary written by Alexandrine Paradis during the French Revolution. Combining contemporary teen problems with history and adding a dash of romance and time travel, the audiobook format is perfect for Jennifer Donnelly's novel (Delacorte, 2010), a 2011 Odyssey Award Honor selection. Emily Card's voicing of Andi has just the right amount of anguish, angst, and attitude. Emma Bering voices Alexandrine Paradis's emotions and French accent perfectly. Donnelly's incredibly descriptive text and the excellent narration create a vivid picture for patient listeners who can handle a lengthy, complex story.—Shari Fesko, Southfield Public Library, MI
Andi Alpers, a 17-year-old music lover, is about to be expelled from her elite private school. Despite her brilliance, she has not been able to focus on anything except music since the death of her younger brother, which pushed the difficulties in her family to the breaking point. She resists accompanying her work-obsessed father to Paris, especially after he places her mentally fragile mother in a hospital, but once there works in earnest on her senior thesis about an 18th-century French musician. But when she finds the 200-year-old diary of another teen, Alexandrine Paradis, she is plunged into the chaos of the French Revolution. Soon, Alex's life and struggles become as real and as painful for Andi as her own troubled life. Printz Honor winner Donnelly combines compelling historical fiction with a frank contemporary story. Andi is brilliantly realized, complete and complex. The novel is rich with detail, and both the Brooklyn and Paris settings provide important grounding for the haunting and beautifully told story. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Read an Excerpt
Those who can, do.
Those who can't, deejay.
Like Cooper van Epp. Standing in his roomthe entire fifth floor of a Hicks Street brownstonetrying to beat-match John Lee Hooker with some piece of trip-hop horror. On twenty thousand dollars' worth of equipment he doesn't know how to use.
"This is the blues, man!" he crows. "It's Memphis mod." He pauses to pour himself his second scotch of the morning. "It's like then and now. Brooklyn and Beale Street all at once. It's like hanging at a house party with John Lee. Smoking Kents and drinking bourbon for breakfast. All that's missing, all we need"
"are hunger, disease, and a total lack of economic opportunity," I say.
Cooper pushes his porkpie back on his head and brays laughter. He's wearing a wifebeater and an old suit vest. He's seventeen, white as cream and twice as rich, trying to look like a bluesman from the Mississippi Delta. He doesn't. He looks like Norton from The Honeymooners.
"Poverty, Coop," I add. "That's what you need. That's where the blues come from. But that's going to be hard for you. I mean, son of a hedge fund god and all."
His idiot grin fades. "Man, Andi, why you always harshing me? Why you always so"
Simone Canovas, a diplomat's daughter, cuts him off. "Oh, don't bother, Cooper. You know why."
"We all do. It's getting boring," says Arden Tode, a movie star's kid.
"And one last thing," I say, ignoring them, "talent. You need talent. Because John Lee Hooker had boatloads of it. Do you actually write any music, Coop? Do you play any? Or do you just stick other people's stuff together and call the resulting calamity your own?"
Cooper's eyes harden. His mouth twitches. "You're battery acid. You know that?"
I am. No doubt about it. I like humiliating Cooper. I like causing him pain. It feels good. It feels better than his dad's whiskey, better than his mom's weed. Because for just a few seconds, someone else hurts, too. For just a few seconds, I'm not alone.
I pick up my guitar and play the first notes of Hooker's "Boom Boom." Badly, but it does the trick. Cooper swears at me and storms off.
Simone glares. "That was brutal, Andi. He's a fragile soul," she says; then she takes off after him. Arden takes off after her.
Simone doesn't give a rat's about Cooper or his soul. She's only worried he'll pull the plug on our Friday-morning breakfast party. She never faces school without a buzz. Nobody does. We need to have something, some kind of substance-fueled force field to fend off the heavy hand of expectation that threatens to crush us like beer cans the minute we set foot in the place.
I quit playing "Boom Boom" and ease into "Tupelo." No one pays any attention. Not Cooper's parents, who are in Cabo for the holidays. Not the maid, who's running around opening windows to let the smoke out. And not my classmates, who are busy trading iPods back and forth, listening to one song after another. No Billboard Hot 100 fare for us. We're better than that. Those tunes are for kids at P.S. Whatever-the-hell. We attend St. Anselm's, Brooklyn's most prestigious private school. We're special. Exceptional. We're supernovas, every single one of us. That's what our teachers say, and what our parents pay thirty thousand dollars a year to hear.
This year, senior year, it's all about the blues. And William Burroughs, Balkan soul, German countertenors, Japanese girl bands, and New Wave. It's calculated, the mix. Like everything else we do. The more obscure our tastes, the greater the proof of our genius.
As I sit here mangling "Tupelo," I catch broken-off bits of conversation going on around me.
"But really, you can't even approach Flock of Seagulls without getting caught up in the metafictive paradigm," somebody says.
And "Plastic Bertrand can, I think, best be understood as a postironic nihilist referentialist."
And "But, like, New Wave derived meaning from its own meaninglessness. Dude, the tautology was so intended."
And then, "Wasn't that a mighty time, wasn't that a mighty time . . ."
I look up. The kid singing lines from "Tupelo," a notorious horndog from Slater, another Heights school, is suddenly sitting on the far end of the sofa I'm sitting on. He smirks his way over until our knees are touching.
"You're good," he says.
"You in a band?"
I keep playing, head down, so he takes a bolder tack.
"What's this?" he says, leaning over to tug on the red ribbon I wear around my neck. At the end of it is a silver key. "Key to your heart?"
I want to kill him for touching it. I want to say words that will slice him to bits, but I have none. They dry up in my throat. I can't speak, so I hold up my hand, the one covered in skull rings, and clench it into a fist.
He drops the key. "Hey, sorry."
"Don't do that," I tell him, tucking it back inside my shirt. "Ever."
"Okay, okay. Take it easy, psycho," he says, backing off.
I put the guitar into its case and head for an exit. Front door. Back door. Window. Anything. When I'm halfway across the living room, I feel a hand close on my arm.
"Come on. It's eight-fifteen."
It's Vijay Gupta. President of the Honor Society, the debate team, the Chess Club, and the Model United Nations. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, a literacy center, and the ASPCA. Davidson Fellow, Presidential Scholar candidate, winner of a Princeton University poetry prize, but, alas, not a cancer survivor.
Orla McBride is a cancer survivor, and she wrote about it for her college apps and got into Harvard early admission. Chemo and hair loss and throwing up pieces of your stomach beat the usual extracurriculars hands down. Vijay only got wait-listed, so he still has to go to class.
"I'm not going," I tell him.
I shake my head.
"What is it?"
Vijay is my best friend. My only friend, at this stage. I have no idea why he's still around. I think he sees me as some kind of rehabilitation project, like the loser dogs he cares for at the shelter.
"Andi, come on," he says. "You've got to. You've got to get your outline in. Beezie'll throw you out if you don't. She threw two seniors out last year for not turning it in."
"I know. But I'm not."
Vijay gives me a worried look. "You take your meds today?" he asks.
He sighs. "Catch you later."
"Yeah, V. Later."
I head out of the Castle van Epp, down to the Promenade. It's snowing. I take a seat high above the BQE, stare at Manhattan for a bit, and then I play. For hours. I play until my fingertips are raw. Until I rip a nail and bleed on the strings. Until my hands hurt so bad I forget my heart does.