This is the story of two revolutions—an internal one for modern day Brooklyn teenager Andi and the French one for eighteenth-century Parisian teenager Alex.
Andi’s younger brother died two years ago and she is still having a hard time processing her feelings. Her rage and grief are threatening to destroy her. In fact, the only thing keeping her afloat is her passion for music, specifically playing the guitar. Her much absent father notices her downward spiral, intervenes, and forces Andi to take a trip to Paris with him. While there, her Pulitzer prize-winning geneticist father plans to perform DNA testing on a two hundred year old heart. He intends to prove that the heart belonged to Louis-Charles, the son of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Andi’s job while in Paris is to work on the outline for her senior thesis.
During the trip, Andi discovers a hidden diary locked away in a two hundred year old guitar case and she begins to read the story of Alex, a teenage street-actor who lived during the French Revolution. It is through Alex’s eyes that the doomed-prince Louis-Charles comes alive and with it the realization that while the world may be stupid and brutal, there is much more to be gleaned from life.
The audiobook narrators, Emily Janice Card (Orson Scott Card’s daughter) and Emma Bering, were superb. It was especially satisfying to hear the French words and names pronounced correctly. While a fantastical twist toward the end might leave listeners questioning the author’s choices, it is hard to deny that Jennifer Donnelly is a master storyteller. Her melding of believable characters and a riveting, history-based storyline make for a highly-recommended historical fiction drama.