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.
Genre: historical; contemporary issues
What seems like a time traveling historical fiction is actually more a study of grief than anything else. Andi feels responsible for the death of her younger brother and spends her time dealing with a mother who can't function and taking enough pills to keep her from committing suicide. Andi is deliberately sinking her future, alienating everyone around her, and refusing any help offered to her. When her father misguidedly thinks getting her off to Paris will help, she finds the diary of a girl long dead who lived during the Revolution. Researching Alexandrine's tragic story and the befriending of a nice young man who refuses to be put off by her slowly starts to get through to Andi that maybe she doesn't want to die. Maybe there's a way to not move on, but at least make room for the pain and forgive yourself.
Andi isn't likable. Her family isn't really either as her father doesn't understand her love for music and how it keeps her sane. Even Alexandrine isn't all that likable as her motivations are for fame, ending with her realizing what she's done to get to that point and who she's sold her soul to. But while they aren't all that likable, they're realistic. It's a bit of a stretch that Andi goes to such a ritzy school and the whole time travel bit at the end felt like a bit of a speed bump in the smoothness of the plot, but the book is a very thoughtful look at pain, grief, guilt, and music.