By Jennifer Donnelly. New York: Delacorte Press, 2010.
Boy, oh boy, what an amazing book! First, let's talk plot. It's present day. Andi Alpers is 17 years-old, living in Brooklyn, and she is deeply grieving the loss of her younger brother, Truman. She has a lot of anger towards her father for never being around, her mother for being basically catatonic and unable to cope with life without her son. Andi has so much anger and grief, and it consumes her everyday life. She isn't able to talk about her feelings with anyone, and anti-depressants are barely keeping her functional. Due to her inability to cope, she is falling behind on her classes and is very close to getting expelled from St. Anselm's, the private school she attends. Her father intervenes, and takes Andi to Paris with him for a work trip with the goal of working on her thesis so she can graduate. While in Paris, Andi discovers a diary hidden in a guitar case that was written by a young girl, Alexandrine, who lived during the French Revolution. It's this discovery that changes Andi's life.
This book grabbed me from the first page and didn't let go! I was captivated by the story, the characters, and the setting. The writing is so strong, you can almost jump into the pages. One of the things I really liked was the two distinctive voices Donnelly gave to Andi and Alex. Andi's pain and grief is so heartbreaking, and you feel her mourning and sadness so fiercely. I also really loved the music element to this novel. Andi is a gifted musician, and music is her way of dealing with her feelings. On Jennifer Donnelly's website, she has a playlist of all the songs mentioned in the book. I also loved the setting and mixture of present time and the past. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to read a fabulous story. Also, if you're not a fan of historical fiction, please, give this book a try. You won't be disappointed!