Every once in a while, you find a book that makes you want to share it with everyone you know. It’s the kind of book that makes you buy spontaneous presents for friends and family because you just can’t wait to hear what other people thought of it. This recently happened to me, and as most people who work with me can attest, I couldn’t stop talking about Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. I was drawn to it as I went into my office one afternoon – the cover was pretty, and I had never seen it before. I was also looking for a new audiobook, so I decided to give it a try. From that afternoon on, I was hooked.
The story begins with a young, angry girl, struggling to get past a horrible tragedy that split her family apart. She is on the verge of failing out of her fancy, private high school, burdened by a depression that overwhelms her. Alarmed by the possibility that his daughter might get kicked out of school, her father decides to take her to France over the winter holiday. She is resentful and angry, but she has no choice in the matter. Once there, she happens upon a journal written by a young actress who lived during the French Revolution, and as she reads through it, she finds herself increasingly drawn to the writer, who also experienced a terrible loss.
Andi Alpers is a smart and compelling heroine. She’s sarcastic and funny, but you can also see the grief she is unable to escape. While some of the issues she deals with are serious, the book never feels too heavy, in great part thanks to Andi’s wit, which offers a nice, light counterbalance to the sadder parts of the story. This was, despite what you might think, an exciting page-turner (which is the only phrase I can use to convey the compelling and addictive quality of this book despite having listened to it and not turned a single page).
Historical novels can seem daunting to some readers, but because the majority of the book takes place in the present day, that historical presence is tempered and the novel remains very accessible. This is a great and fun book, having been honoured with many glowing reviews, and it would also serve as good book report fodder, given the historical information you can’t help but absorb while progressing through the tale.
On a side note, the audiobook is phenomenal. The readers (there are two) capture the characters completely. This audiobook was so well-regarded, it received the American Library Association Odyssey Honor. I would recommend this book under any circumstances, but the audiobook is a great option, so if you are looking for a new listen, or just looking to see if you are someone who might like audiobooks, try this one, because it is a fine example of what the medium can offer.
Happy reading (or listening, as the case may be)!