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Donnelly (A Northern Light) melds contemporary teen drama with well-researched historical fiction and a dollop of time travel for a hefty read that mostly succeeds. Andi Alpers is popping antidepressants and flunking out of her Brooklyn prep school, grieving over her younger brother's death. She finds solace only when playing guitar. When the school notifies her mostly absent scientist father that she's flirting with expulsion, he takes Andi to Paris for Christmas break, where he's testing DNA to see if a preserved heart really belonged to the doomed son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Andi is ordered to work on her senior thesis about a (fictional) French composer. Bunking at the home of a renowned historian, Andi finds a diary that relates the last days of Alexandrine, nanny to (you guessed it) the doomed prince. The story then alternates between Andi's suicidal urges and Alexandrine's efforts to save the prince. Donnelly's story goes on too long, but packs in worthy stuff. Musicians, especially, will appreciate the thread about the debt rock owes to the classics. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Gr 9 Up-Andy is in Paris conducting research for her senior thesis on a 19th-century guitarist. While in France, she is distracted by the diary of Alexandrine, the last dauphin's companion, and Virgil, a Tunisian-French hip-hop artist. When she is transported back in time to the terror of the French Revolution, things get dangerous. Audio version available from Listening Library. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Donnelly follows her Printz Honor Book, A Northern Light (2003), with another gripping, sophisticated story, but this time she pairs historical fiction with a wrenching contemporary plotline. After her little brother's murder and her mother's subsequent breakdown, high-school-senior Andi feels like a ghost. She is furious at her father, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist with a 25-year-old pregnant girlfriend, when he arranges for Andi to join him in Paris: Sure. My brother's dead. My mother's insane. Hey, let's have a crepe. In France though, Andi, a passionate musician, discovers a diary written during the French Revolution by a young woman with whom Andi develops an increasing fascination. Donnelly links past and present with distracting contrivances culminating in time travel that work against the novel's great strengths. But the ambitious story, narrated in Andi's grief-soaked, sardonic voice, will wholly capture patient readers with its sharply articulated, raw emotions and insights into science and art; ambition and love; history's ever-present influence; and music's immediate, astonishing power: It gets inside of you . . . and changes the beat of your heart. --Engberg, Gillian Copyright 2010 Booklist