Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Genre: Fiction – YA
About: (Book flap) BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.
PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.
Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.
My thoughts: This was a book club pick that had been on my radar for a while so I was happy to read it. I thought the premise was interesting. There were numerous pop culture references – some I ‘got’, some I didn’t. Having majored in music, the classical music aspect of the novel was my favorite.
There was a lot of angst but I understood where Andi was coming from re her emotions about her life. I just wanted to give her a hug (since neither of her parents seemed able), assure her that life would get better and that she wasn’t at fault for her brother’s death. I think my favorite character was Virgil who became Andi’s friend when she needed one most. He was a talented musician and a thoughtful friend.
The parallel story about Alexandrine was probably a good introduction to readers not familiar with the French Revolution. I’ve read other historical fiction novels about that time that were more satisfying.
Upon finishing the book I felt I wasn’t the intended reader for the book. I thought it was ok but that’s it. There were parts I really liked and some I just didn’t feel a connection. I was in the minority in my group. Reactions were mostly favorable. I’m going to give it to my niece and get her take – she’s seventeen and an avid reader. Did you read it? What did you think?
Rating: 3/5 stars
Recommend? I think fans of YA fiction will enjoy it.
Source: I bought it.