October 24, 2013

Historical Fiction
By Jennifer Donnelly
Reviewed by Alyssa
Rated 5 out of 5 stars

revolutionRevolution tells the story of two girls living centuries apart, one never knowing the other. Andi, heartbroken over the loss of her younger brother, finds the diary of a young girl living in 18th century Paris and becomes caught up in a plot to rescue a child prince who lived and died over two hundred years previously.

While Revolution is classed as a time-slip fantasy, Donnelly doesn’t follow the usual rules of time-slip novels. The bulk of the novel is set in present-day France, and even when Andi does slip 200 years back in time, the focus is not on mystery and magic, but on her own personal feelings and experiences. Some readers might not like how little Donnelly dwells on the fantasy aspect of the story, but for me, it felt just right. Donnelly encourages the reader to question whether Andi’s time-slip journey was real at all, and in many ways, Revolution has more in common with contemporary realistic fiction than fantasy.

At its heart, Revolution is not a French history lesson, but a story of love, loss and the transformative healing power of artistic expression. Andi finds the strength to combat depression in her music, her mother finds strength in painting, and Alexandre found joy in performing to the empty streets of eighteenth-century Paris. Donnelly takes this message a little too far – some passages seem strangely anti-medication, and Andi’s hospitalized mother eventually throws away her pills, deciding to rely solely on painting to combat her illness. But otherwise, I was impressed with Donnelly’s positive depiction of art and creativity, and her understanding of just how crippling depression can feel.

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