Monday, September 19, 2011
The Book Addict Reviews: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Order Online: Amazon.com
Author Info: Website | Goodreads
Rating: 4 stars
Borrowed from the library.
In A Nutshell:
I cannot remember who told me about this book, and I wish I did because I would love to give that person credit. This book is one of the best I books I have read--probably ever. I have a new favorite author and I have not been able to stop talking about this book since I started it. And now that I am done, I want to crank up the Beethoven while reading more about the French Revolution--I am not ready to let go my connection to these characters yet!
Andy's life has been overwhelmed by a tragedy. A tragedy that has sent her mom hiding within herself. A tragedy that has sent her father away to his dream job in another state. A tragedy that has sent her to a shrink who has prescribed some pretty powerful drugs. And yet on a daily basis Andy is still fighting with the demon inside herself--the one that threatens to take over, the one that tells her that it would all be easier if she took one more step off the rooftop and ended all of her pain.
I admit it is deep, it is depressing, but it is Andy's life. From page one, Jennifer Donnelly has the reader living Andy's life. It is not easy, but it is real. And in the end it has a lasting effect, I wanted to remember Andy; I wanted her to make a lasting impression on me.
But Jennifer Donnelly's magic was not limited to her griping portray of Andy, in Revolution Jennifer Donnelly weaves in the story of Alex, a young girl living in France during the French Revolution. She makes a big mistake that ends up hurting her charge, a boy she had grown to love like a little brother, and by the time she realizes her mistake she cannot fix it. But that does not stop her from trying. She does the only thing she could think of to make a stand--try to bring the boy a little joy while he is living in captivity.
I remember studying the French Revolution in history class. The terror expressed in the number of deaths. The chaos expressed in drawings and illustrations. But the way Jennifer Donnelly presents the story stuck with me--the way she shows the reader what it may have been like for one common person during the Revolution. I cared about Alex and what happened to her. I cared about what happened to France because of her. And I was hungry to learn more, to do more research on the topic. Jennifer Donnelly sparked an interest in me that I had never experienced about the French Revolution from any of my history classes.
I also loved learning about music--seeing the power of music through Andy's eyes (or maybe ears would be more accurate?). I played instruments through high school--I know how hard it is to describe music in words. Jennifer Donnelly does it in such a way that I got it and I think other people could get it too. They could understand Andy's passion, her talent, and her desire to make her passion for music her profession. As I was listening to the book I wished that there were samples of the music referenced because I found myself appreciating the classics (for instance, Bach and Beethoven) in ways I had never appreciated them before. Jennifer Donnelly was able to get me interested in a way that many of my past music teachers were never able to do.
I have read some reviews that were critical of the way Jennifer Donnelly handled the father/daughter relationship, but I did not see the relationship between Andy and her father as the central theme in this book. It felt that her relationship with Alex was more important. However as I thought about it, I do think that Jennifer Donnelly handled the father/daughter relationship well based on the constraints of this story. There was not going to be a happily ever after resolution for Andy and her father. There had been too much pain, too many hurt feelings. But at the end, I felt they understood themselves and each other better than they had before. Maybe with more time they will be closer--or maybe not. But either way, they are both in a better place emotionally and mentally than they were at the beginning of the book. They were on the road to healing.
I cannot wait to read and/or listen to another one of Jennifer Donnelly's books.
This book also reminded me of a book I remember reading in college and want to read again as soon as I can.