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Revolution Bets On...


October 2010

REVOLUTION is my first Young Adult Bets On selection. At a time when we see more and more adults reading young adult titles, this is one with clear crossover appeal. It’s set in both the present day and the French Revolution. History class is many years behind me at this point, but I found myself getting a wonderful refresher about Paris two centuries ago that made the city during the French Revolution come alive for me through the meticulous research of Jennifer Donnelly, who many of you know from her two adult novels, THE TEA ROSE and THE WINTER ROSE.

Andi, the modern character who lives in Brooklyn, has a number of issues with which to grapple. Her younger brother has died, something for which she blames herself, her father has a new wife and her mom is pretty much checked out. Combine that with the academic and social pressures of a swanky New York private school, and Andi becomes a teen with a lot to handle and not much support. When her father declares she will join him for winter break in Paris --- so he can monitor her getting her life and her senior thesis on track --- Andi goes kicking and screaming.

At a family friend’s home, she finds Alexandrine’s (love that name) diary, and from there she is caught up in the historical portion of the story that centers on Louis Charles, the young son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. While we all know his parents’ fate, most will not know what happened to the children they left behind. Donnelly has done an award-winning job of bringing the stories together. There also is a wonderful discussion of music, drawing connections between old world artists and today’s modern musicians. You can hear the music being played as you turn the pages, and though I am not a huge fan of classical music, I found myself wanting to plunge into listening to these scores and more deeply appreciating the old masters.

Donnelly spent 10 years researching and writing this book, and her painstaking work makes this a book that reads like a page-turner, but will be savored, reflected on and remembered long after the reading is done. There was more than one occasion that I commented that this book is nothing short of brilliant, not only for the way it addresses the story matter, but also for the way she weaves characters and time periods together. A triumph.

by Jennifer Donnelly

  • Publication Date: October 12, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction, Young Adult 14+
  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0385737637
  • ISBN-13: 9780385737630