Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Jennifer Donnelly, REVOLUTION
Very, very good. As in NORTHERN LIGHT, there is a "twinned" structure. The protagonist teenage-girl-with-a-problem has documents from another young woman in a similar situation. Here, Andi is a musical genius who was not watching out for her brother on the morning he was killed by a madman in Brooklyn. In the case of an old violin in France, she finds a diary of a girl Alexandrine who sent up fireworks in Paris during the French Revolution, trying to comfort the Dauphin, imprisoned in his cell, until he is killed (arguably, also by a madman). The coincidence of Andi going to Paris and being handed a violin case with a compartment that only opens to the key that her brother found in a scrap heap back in Brooklyn ... well, ... but so what. Donnelly writes so well, I feel like I'd be a nitpicking kill-joy if I were going to stick at that. One review I read felt that the second plot (Alexandrine's journal) was made to serve the first, but I felt Donnelly kept them in balance. There's always a risk when writers lean too heavily on letters or journals, but I was drawn along and compelled by Andi's conflicts/plots--her mind-numbing guilt about her brother, her mother's mental illness, her estrangement from her father, her romance with the hot French musician Virgil (!)--and because Donnelly doesn't insert the journal sections in big chunks, I usually felt I was in Andi's head while I was reading them. Thoroughly enjoyable.