by Jennifer Donnelly

The death of her younger brother Truman tore Andi’s family apart. Two years... read more

The death of her younger brother Truman tore Andi’s family apart. Two years later, anger and guilt have left Andi indifferent to graduating from her private high school. Andi’s dad intervenes uninvited, whisking her off to Paris for winter break to focus on her senior thesis while he does work of his own. Andi is tracing the musical DNA of many classic and contemporary rock songs to the compositions of (fictional) eighteenth-century French composer Andre Mahlerbeau. Andi’s geneticist dad is conducting DNA testing on a preserved heart believed to be that of the young prince Louis-Charles, the dauphin at the time of the French Revolution. Andi’s discovery of an old diary belonging to Alexandrine, a young peasant woman who became a companion to the prince and tried to free him from captivity, blurs the lines between contemporary and historical fiction in this ambitious novel. The fervor and terror of Revolutionary France are palpable in the diary sections. And on the vibrantly realized streets of Paris, Andi meets Virgil, a young musician whose parents emigrated from Tunisia and whose lyrics speak to the race, class, and religious issues that divide France today. As she reads about the past, Andi can’t help but equate the innocent dauphin and his tragic death with memories of her brother, and the desperation and depression she’s battled threatens to overwhelm her even as her developing relationship with Virgil allows her to sense the possibility of happiness. Jennifer Donnelly’s rich, complex story explores sorrow and healing across two time periods in a novel that credibly merges present and past. (Age 14 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2011

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