By Jennifer Donnelly
October 12, 2010
Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 496 pages
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.
— Amazon.com description
I closed this book and could only think of one thing: Holy cow, Jennifer Donnelly is smart. Like, REAL smart, yo.
Yup, super articulate—that's me.
But it's true. It's astounding how every last detail seems to be well-researched. This author clearly put a LOT of work into telling this story.
It's a mix between a contemporary and historical fiction, so there's angsty, modern sensibilities mixed in with the shockingly authentic historical bits. Jennifer Donnelly, are you sure you are not a time traveler? For reals?
Impressive, to say the least. That being said, I think the book suffered a bit when it came to pacing. The historical fiction portions didn't come into play for quite some time, and I think it was a little too long.
Historical fans and Francophiles will love this one.
You might also like: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, even though they have nothing but France in common. Vive la France? Oui. Ooh-la-la? Cafe au lait.*
*Forgive me, but that is the extent of my French.