The parallel tragedies of human loss and the spirit's defiance come together in this story of a modern teen's struggle to overcome the tragic loss of her younger brother and her family's disintegration after the boy's death. This modern tragedy is set against the backdrop of a trip to Paris, arranged by her desperate, yet distracted and work-harried father. What happens in Paris becomes a transforming experience for young Andi Alpers - a parental 'putting down of the foot' forces her to attend to a required Senior Thesis that she is required to do prior to graduating from her posh Brooklyn prep school. The thesis, her passion for music, a chance meeting near the Eiffel Tower, her music-loaded iPod, and her immersion in the events of The Reign of Terror carry her off on a journey of discovery - an inner revolution that changes a forlorn depressed teenager into a more self-aware survivor.
This is a terrific book that is well researched and doesn't dumb down its content or edgy take on modern teen culture for its young adult readers. I have to respect that. It nudges itself a bit more space against the more frivolous teen reads on the library shelf. I can only hope that Donnelly continues to give her young readers more meaty books like this.
Couldn't help making connections to Neil Gaimen's Neverwhere when reading the passages about Andi's tour and adventures in the catacombs ... creepy and reminiscent of Dante's Inferno too.