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If Only Robespierre Could Have Had a Cupcake…

Jenny reviews Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, in which two girls -- centuries apart -- search for Louis-Charles, the ill-fated dauphin of France.

If Only Robespierre Could Have Had a Cupcake…

BOOK REPORT for Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Cover Story: Respectable Enough
BFF Charm: Nay At First, But Yay Later! (For Both of Them)
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Dan Brownish
Bonus Factor: French Revolution, Paris, Music
Relationship Status: Going Steady

Cover Story: Respectable Enough

While I may not want to parade this cover around my friends and coworkers, it's got enough class not to embarrass me in front of them if it happens to slip out of my bag.

The Deal:

Andi is a jerk. And a trouble-maker. She's a poor little rich girl genius who attends a premier private school in Brooklyn. She's tormented, and a tormentor. She pops pills like they're Skittles, and is one step from offing herself at every turn. See, two years ago her little brother Truman was killed. We don't know how, but Andi blames herself. Her French artist mother has gone off the deep end, and does nothing but paint picture after picture of Truman, having episode after episode when she can't quite get him right. Andi's dad is a Nobel prize-winning geneticist who had pretty much checked out before Truman's death, and who had completely checked out after.

He comes home only after getting a letter that Andi is about to fail her senior year of school, and being about the farthest guy imaginable from winning our Cliff Huxtable award for dadhood, checks Andi's mom into a mental institution, and decides to show Andi some tough love by insisting she come to Paris with him-- where he's working on his latest project: proving, or dis-proving that a heart, kept in a jar, belonged to the ill-fated dauphin, Louis-Charles. He decides that Paris will do Andi 'some good', and he's going to make her finish her senior thesis while she's there, so she can get into a good college.

Once in Paris, things don't get much better for Andi- or her attitude- but then she finds a mysterious diary, written by a young girl named Alex, about her experiences during the height of the French Revolution, and her quest for the boy who would be king. Andi finds herself drawn into this story, and the more she reads, the more her own story becomes inexplicably parallel to Alex's-- her own fate tied to what lies written on tattered pages...

BFF Charm: Nay At First, But Yay Later! (For Both of Them)

I definitely GOT Andi's issues. I can't even imagine what she had been through, and may I never be able to. But that didn't make me want to try to befriend her, or tell her to lose the metal and the 'tood, because honestly, girlfriend had to figure things out for herself. In a perfect world, her mother would have been able to celebrate the child she was still blessed with, and her father would have been able to express that his own disconnect was not because he blamed her for Truman's death, but because he blamed himself. Since she had neither of those things, all I could do was be sympathetic, and watch as her inner turmoil builds to a head.

And as for Alex, I loved her instantly, but knew-- at least in the beginning-- she'd as soon hand me over to Robespierre as look at me.

I'd def like to know Andi's BFF Vijay, if just to help him come up with new names for his overbearing mom-- flesh-eating mombie-- and because it would be nice to be able to say you knew the President of the United States back when.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

The swoony-swoon in this book is SO minor compared to the rest of the plot that it really can't be rated higher. However, the character of Virgil is REALLY awesome and cute and talented, and incredibly sweet and patient and brown-skinned and FRENCH!!!! (Even though there were at least a couple of pages of his raps that I had to skip over, hoping they weren't plot-important, because songs/raps/poetry in a book = makes Jenny a hater.)

Andi's previous experience with boys had been, shall we say, thorough, in the carnal sense, but watching her discover someone kind and caring, even when she was too afraid to even hope this time was different was beautiful and heartbreaking.

Talky Talk: Dan Brownish

Now before that rating turns you off completely, I feel the need to justify. I've only ever read The Da Vinci Code, and while I was GROSSLY disappointed with the ending, what I liked about it was the in-depth history and massive amounts of conjecture. This book has that in SPADES, folks, plus it's got characters with actual depth and feelings along with their loads of warts.

Bonus Factor: French Revolution

I would recommend this book to anyone based on its accounts during the Revolution alone. It is a time depicted both beautiful and horrific, and is oft glossed over in our history classes. My heart broke and my pulse raced for the tragic little boy, so cruelly and inhumanly imprisoned in the tower.

Bonus Factor: Paris

J' adore! Ah, the food! The beauty! The food! Andi finds herself hungry many times throughout this adventure, and where else would you rather be hungry than in Paris? If you also had the means to satisfy that hunger, that is. The descriptions of her friend's cooking alone made my mouth water.

Bonus Factor: Music

I think you would need to be a music scholar (I'm looking at you, Antony) to understand all of the musical terminology Donnelly drops in this thing, but I loved Andi with her teacher Nathan, whose advice is just to 'find the next note'. And I specifically enjoyed the subject of Andi's thesis, Amade Malherbeau, a fictional French composer from the 1800's.

Casting Call:

Emma Stone as both Andi and Alex

Not that she needs the work, but Emma Stone is one of the only actresses I can think of who could act like a complete asshole and still garner sympathy. Plus, she's proven she can do comedy. It's time for some gut-wrenching drama, I say.

Relationship Status: Going Steady

I knew this book wasn't a short-term love affair from the moment I saw it. (I mean, this one's got substance! 472 pages worth!) So I'm not surprised, really to say that we've grown together over time, instead of apart. And even though I don't see us becoming equally committed life partners or anything, we'll always have Paris.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.
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