BROOKLYN: Andi Alpers is on the edge. She’s angry at her father for leaving, angry at her mother for not being able to cope, and heartbroken by the loss of her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And she’s about to be expelled from Brooklyn Heights’ most prestigious private school when her father intervenes. Now Andi must accompany him to Paris for winter break.
PARIS: Alexandrine Paradis lived over two centuries ago. She dreamed of making her mark on the Paris stage, but a fateful encounter with a doomed prince of France cast her in a tragic role she didn’t want—and couldn’t escape.
Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.
I never wanted to read this book. I thought the blurb was interesting, but the first few pages were killing me. I absolutely couldn’t understand it at all. Then my teacher asked me to do a report on this book for extra credit. And so…I read it. The time travel was really interesting, but I liked Timeline’s version of time travel the best, where you get faxed in between time and space. In a way, this book did remind me of Timeline, the way that the French Revolution played into this. I liked Number the Stars, Timeline and The Book Thief better as historical fiction, but this book would make it into my top ten for historical fiction. Four stars.
1) Andi. The growth of Andi was enormous in this book. You could see her shine through as a character without wavering. I feel like I know her as a person, not as someone I read about in a book or someone who I can predict their every move, like they’re just being moved every which way by the writer. She is so full of pain and sympathy for people, which she hides inside of herself.
2) Pure skill, good planning, lots of paper and sheer luck. Four things you need to be able to juggle your plot line, history of France, past and present, music and science. Being able to juggle all of these plotlines is pretty impressive, actually. Shakespeare was a master of juggling these things. The representation of 18th Century France, the lives of Alexandrine and Andi was distinct, smart and time-appropriate. The book is balanced and well-researched.
3) Length. This book is (in paperback) 472 pages. Length if one thing both Jennifer Donnelly and the last Transformer’s movie director do not understand. At least for this book, Jennifer Donnelly stretched it out thin in some parts. It was a chore to read in some places. I also didn’t like the twist in this book. I was really disappointed in both Andi and Jennifer Donnelly for this. I feel like Andi should’ve been able to connect with herself and repair herself on the strength of Virgil, Andi’s boyfriend, her friends, Alexandrine, and the experiances she had.
In the end, this is a fairly good historical fiction novel which would appeal to music lovers and teenagers more than tweens.
pg count for the paperback: 472