Revolution

Revolution - Jennifer Donnelly I don't think I've ever read a book that's left me quite so raw. I'd been meaning to read Revolution ever since it's hardcover release but in the age-old irony of the bookseller, I ended up leaving it until three days before the meeting where the teen book club would be discussing it. In truth, it might have been for the best that I was forced to read it so quickly. Harsh is not quite the word for it, but I don't think I could call the experience anything but harsh, at least for me. If I did not have the book club discussion as a deadline, I may never have finished it. As it was, I found myself repeatedly setting the book down to pace the length of my apartment in order to keep the breath in my lungs. Reading Andi's story took me back to a difficult time in my life, which happened when I was about the same age and even had a similar cure. Like Andi, it was a trip to Paris and a connection with Louis-Charles Capet that set me onto a safer course. Reading her story opened quite a wound -- or perhaps a better comparison would be to say that it re-broke a leg, in order to set it better. Andi's family was torn apart by the death of her ten-year-old brother Truman, and since then, Andi's been letting her grades slip and has been rolling with a bad crowd, but she doesn't connect with them any more than with the rest of the world. Part of that is due to the Qwellify, and anti-depressant: too little and she can't get out of bed, too much and she start to hallucinate. Her mother isn't crying and breaking things anymore, instead she's frantically painting portrait after portrait of Truman, determined to get the eyes right. The only person with whom Andi can really connect is Nathan, her music instructor and a Holocaust survivor. When Andi's father, who is distant both physically and emotionally, decides to step in, Andi finds her mother admitted to a hospital and herself whisked away to Paris for the winter break while her father conducts a high-profile DNA analysis. They are staying with her father's friend G, who has filled a Saint-Antoine warehouse with what will be his museum dedicated to the French Revolution. Among the collected items is an eighteenth century guitar, which G encourages Andi to re-string and play. In a hidden compartment of the case, Andi finds two things, a portrait of a young boy who is the spitting image of Truman, and a diary written by a girl name Alexandrine. The boy is Louis-Charles. And it's the identification of the heart in Saint-Denis that has brought her father to Paris. As Andi reads the diary, she slowly becomes obsessed with both Louis-Charles and Alexandrine, determined that they both survived the Revolution... In anticipating Andi's heartbreak, I re-experienced my own. My connection with Louis-Charles was in fiction, and tragic in its own way as I had Baroness Orczy's imagination working against me. The proof of the heart upset me to a point that surprised me. Reliving it through Andi's admittedly more devastating reveal brought the book to life in a very disconcerting way. On a lighter note: curse you and bless you, Jennifer Donnelly, for your fabulous bibliography.