Revolution – Jennifer Donnelly

“Those who can, do.
Those who can’t, deejay.
Like Cooper van Epp. Standing in his room – the entire fifth floor of a Hicks Street brownstone – trying 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.”
Andi is lost and alone. Two years after her brother, Truman, was killed she is practically friendless and her mother has taken to sitting in the house painting portrait after portrait of Truman and never being able to get it right. All Andi has is her music. Then her Dad visits. Receiving a letter from Andi’s top quality private school telling him shes failing everything except music he puts her mother into a hospital and drags Andi off to Paris. Andi has her time there to come up with a substantial Senior thesis outline and introduction, one which will amazing her father, who doesn’t understand her fascination or love for music.
Alex is a street performer in the eighteenth century struggling for food to put of her family’s table. When her fortunes turn; she becomes a personal actor of sorts for the young son of the King and Queen of France. But all is not well in the area and the Revolution begins. Following horrendous events the royal family is taken away from her, King and Queen murdered and the Prince thrown in a tower Alex writes down her experiences of the Revolution into a diary.
When Andi finds the diary and starts to read, her thesis is forgotten. But it would seem theres more to this than just a diary. The girls seem to be tied together somehow and Andi learns more than she thought she ever would; about her thesis topic, the French Revolution, history and herself.

Ok let me just start this review by saying that when I finished this book I literally had to stop and do nothing for a good ten minutes. It had me awestruck, it had me speechless… and to be hoenst, it still does so I’m sorry if this review is waffle.
Revolution is an amazing tale of a young depressed girl still in grief for a brother who she lost… a loss she blames herself for. Her family isn’t the most stable, her father was always at work before the accident and has since left and moved in with a new girlfriend. Her mother pours her grief into paintings of Truman, but that’s only on a good day. On a bad day she throws pots at walls and trashes the place. Andi has a lot to deal with, and she deals with it by popping pills and pushing everyone who loves her away with attitude and false hatred.
The story is amazing. Andi’s hurt just seeps out of the pages when you start reading and you feel everything she feels. Written in first person narration you really get into Andi’s head in Revolution and that’s not always a good place to be. Her love for music is the strongest things that comes out of this book and I think that really is the definining character of Andi. The events which get her to Paris all make sense and although I couldn’t stand her father at first I knew he was trying to do the right thing.
I’ve heard some people saying that the start of this book was slow. I didn’t think that but I was unsure when I realised that Andi went to a private school with some of the genius youths of the century. Her best friend, Vijay was literally a genius, he was getting world leaders to read his thesis and comment on it and I was worried that these things would equate to Andi being a spoilt little rich kid. She really isn’t, her character is immensely relatable and I couldn’t fault her.
The setting of Paris is something that is often used. But the mix of contemporary and historical facts made the place come alive so much more in this book than in any others I’ve read. The catacombs are places that I’ve heard of but they really came to life in this book and I loved the scene with the party that’s held within a room in them. I couldn’t imagine when I first heard about them, what it must be like to be down in them but through revolution I could envisage them perfectly, it made me want to visit them myself!
The use of music to overcome grief and loss is something that I could definitely relate to. I use music to get through just my everyday life so when Im overwhelmed by certain emotions I turn to music… I think that is why this book meant so much to me. I mean, the history and the idea around the French Revolution was fascinating, I learnt so much more with this book than I ever did at Uni when I was studying the time period but the music is what made me want to sink into this book, over and over again.
I hope this review makes sense… I have tried but theres so much I want to say about it that I just can’t fit it all in. The story is brilliant, it’s powerful and amazingly written and has characters you can relate to and would want to meet in real life (yes I’m talking about Virgil) (PS, how cool would it be to be called Virgil!). It’s worth the read just for the characters but it’s also worth a read to learn more about music and history and I can’t believe that I, someone who always thought history was boring, could read a book all about the French Revolution and love it so much that it’s one of my favourites of 2011!
I urge you to go and buy this book. It’s got music, friends, love, laughter, sadness and most of all a bloody fantastic storyline!
Revolution was published in hardback in October last year. The paperback edition was released today by Bloomsbury. My copy was sent by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.


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