Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Title: Revolution

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.

Viola In Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani

Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani: Book Cover

Synopsis

I’m marooned.
Abandoned.
Left to rot in boarding school . . .
Viola doesn’t want to go to boarding school, but somehow she ends up at an all-girls school in South Bend, Indiana, far, far away from her home in Brooklyn, New York. Now Viola is stuck for a whole year in the sherbet-colored sweater capital of the world.
Ick.
There’s no way Viola’s going to survive the year—especially since she has to replace her best friend Andrew with three new roommates who, disturbingly, actually seem to like it there. She resorts to viewing the world (and hiding) behind the lens of her video camera.
Boarding school, though, and her roommates and even the Midwest are nothing like she thought they would be, and soon Viola realizes she may be in for the most incredible year of her life.
But first she has to put the camera down and let the world in.

* * * * * * *

Viola In Reel Life is the story of Viola Chesterton, age fourteen. Viola’s parents are documentary film-makers who are going to film in Afghanistan. They’ll be gone a year and Prefect Academy is the perfect place for Viola to spend that year. She hates leaving her BFFs back in Brooklyn – how will she ever get along without them?
At first, I thought Viola was a spoiled, self-centered girl. But I reminded myself of her age and the fact that her life was changing virtually overnight. I thought she seemed a bit too glib, too precocious in the opening chapters but I warmed up to the character and enjoyed seeing how she coped with her new life, new friends, new school, etc.
I’ll be recommending this book to my niece who is fifteen and rarely seen without a book. I think she’ll enjoy reading about Viola. I know I did!


The Blue Star by Tony Earley

Cover Image

Jim The Boy introduced us to Jim Glass, a boy growing up in 1930s North Carolina. He was 10 years old when the book ended. The Blue Star picks up Jim’s story when he is finishing high school and the world is involved in war. Jim has grown in many ways but finds he still doesn’t always get what he wants. There are lessons to be learned that aren’t taught in the classroom. He’s ready to learn them, though. We leave Jim as he is heading out into the world and I am glad I had a tissue nearby. Tony Earley has written a wonderful story and I hope to read the next installment very soon. Four Stars!