Sunday, September 11, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Revolution means a total or radical change.  The book, Revolution follows two girls who are undergoing their own Revolution and trying to overcome the chains that bind them.  Each girl lives a similar life 200 years apart and they are connected through a diary found in a old guitar case.

Andi is a spoiled American rich girl whose brother has died, her mother has just been admitted to a mental hospital and her relationship with her father is strained at best.  Andi is a musical genius with superior guitar skills and is supposed to be writing her senior thesis on a famous guitar player (Malherbeau- who is fictional)  Andi finds an old guitar when she goes to Paris with her father for winter break and finds a secret compartment in the guitar case which holds the key to another girl's past and maybe Andi's future.

Andi finds the diary of Alexandrine who is a poor French girl earning her living by entertaining people with her acting skills on the streets of Paris.  Alex soon becomes the personal companion of the Dauphin of France, 10 year old Louis-Charles when Versailles is overrun by a mob and the French Revolution has begun.  Louis Charles is imprisoned, and when his heart is found encased in a jar 200 years later, it is being tested by Andi's father who is a nobel prize winning DNA specialist.  The lives of these girls are interconnected through the creative dual storyline.

Revolution is also about the revolution of music and a romp through musical history.  It takes you from Bach and Handel which are some of Marie Antoinette's court favorites to Led Zeppelin and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I enjoyed the musical piece of the book even though I hadn't heard some of the music.  I found a website called BookTunes where they created a soundtrack of Revolution that you can purchase on iTunes.
Revolution heads underground into the catacombs under the streets of Paris where bones of people past still reside.  The tour of Paris's underground was so fascinating and full of historical references that I never knew.  I never realized that it is still a burial ground open to the public full of victim's who suffered the fate of the Guillotine.  I am totally going here next time I am in Paris.

As a world history teacher I felt the book included accurate historical information about the French Revolution as well as the importance of music in the world then and now.  Revolution illustrates the importance of connections, change and the illusions of time and space.  History reminds all of us that the past is connected to the future and the future is connected to the past and that we all must adapt and change to survive and flourish.  Such a powerful lesson.

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