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.
Andi is extremely depressed and no longer cares about school or anything so her father takes her with him to Paris in the hopes to get through to her. But being the estranged parent that he is, it doesn't really work. They fight a lot and Andi just wants to go home to her mother, whom has been shipped off to a psych hospital. In Andi's introduction, it takes a while to understand what has happened to make her so distant and her mother so distracted.
Andi is a musical genius but is failing school and is drugged up on anti-depressants to get her through the day. She was quite difficult to get to know but I immediately felt her pain; how could you not, when she was blaming herself for her bother's death and contemplating jumping in front of every car that passed her? And yet I liked her, she didn't know how strong she was until she found a reason to keep going.
In Paris, she and her father are staying with old friends, one of whom is researching and starting a museum on the French Revolution. That's how Andi finds a diary in a hidden compartment in an old guitar case. A young girl trying to survive and make a living during the chaos of the revolution, Andi is immediately captivated. So am I actually, I loved the diary entries to the past and that time period has always fascinated me. Reading the diary, we get to know Alex, a drama lover who finds her ticket to the big leagues in entertaining the royal prince. For Andi it wasn't so much about comfort in Alex's words, more like distraction and obsession and the need for a happy ending in this crappy world. There was also a lot of similarities between her brother Truman and the young prince Louis-Charles and her heart broke at the thought that he died all alone.
I admit it took a while to get into but once we got to Paris, the story really took off. This book had a little of everything: romance, action, history, doing the right thing, fighting the revolution inside ourselves. It had a spectacular twist near the end that was highly entertaining and a little weird but I was hooked. I adored every page and was sad when it ended. But my oh my, was it an amazing book, filled with love, life and death, the tough choices and the horrible beauty that is life.
Published October 2011 by Bloomsbury.