It’s been some time since Andi’s younger brother was killed, but Andi and her mother are still tormented by his loss. Andi’s basically failing school, and the only thing that keeps her alive is her music. When Andi’s father discovers the tenuous mental states his family is in, he packs his ex-wife off to a mental ward and takes Andi with him to Paris. Her father is a very famous scientist who studies DNA and he’s in Paris to assist in DNA research on a 17th century heart for his old roommate, now a famous historian. The heart is believed to have belonged to Louis-Charles, the young son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI and dauphin of France who was orphaned, imprisoned, and very likely starved to death by his captors. Andi cannot help but compare Louis-Charles to her brother, and finds herself hoping that the heart does not belong to the poor boy. Struggling with her grief and guilt, she is granted permission to play an old 17th century guitar, and when she does so, she discovers a journal in the guitar case’s hidden compartment. The journal belongs to Alexandrine Paradis, a young girl from a family of players who was once Louis-Charles’s playmate. As Andi learns more about Alexandrine, Louis-Charles, and the deadly mayhem that was the Revolution, she discovers other secrets and they all push her into a process of healing.
While this book started out unusually, the premise and the ideas were quickly captivating. It is one of the best in-depth historical fiction books I have read although it doesn’t come close to the greatness that is Between Shades of Gray or Code Name Verity. It intertwines the stories of Andi and Alexandrine into almost one voice, as Andi heals from the guilt and pain left behind from her brother’s death. There is some suspension of reality involved as Andi takes a visit into the past, but overall, it is a great read.
Fun fact: the newest announced Assassin’s Creed video game is also going to take place during the French Revolution.