This Young Adult story came highly recommended to me by friends, so I chose it for book club. I was thoroughly impressed by the author's research of the French Revolution, modern-day France, genetic research, music, and New York City private school culture (do teenagers seriously talk that way to each other? The environment seemed so different from my Midwest public school experience. I found these teenagers incredibly smart but so sad and damaged). I enjoyed the interweaving stories of Andi and Alex, and the exploration of a family moving forward after trauma.
However, something felt a bit flat for me emotionally. I know that Andi's story is rather tragic due to the death of her sweet brother Truman, but for some reason the story felt melodramatic at times. Maybe it's because I didn't connect easily with Andi, or maybe it's just an accurate representation of adolescence and I'm not an adolescent anymore!
In the beginning of the novel Andi has some funny moments, like when she calls the outfit worn by the headmistress "purple menopause clothes" (p.13).
Or when she describes her wealthy friend Arden's big belt over her micromini: "It has a shiny buckle with PRADA on it, which is Italian for insecure." (p.34).
And her friend Vijay's nicknames for his mom are hilarious: Momsoon, Atom Mom, Vietmom, Flesh-Eating Mombie. :D
I did connect emotionally with the relationship between Alex and Louis-Charles--that was my favorite part of the book.
I guess I felt so much sadness throughout the story that I was seeking some relief, hoping for a big payoff. When it finally came it felt a little ho-hum. They say that everyone second-guesses or blames themselves after a tragedy, and that definitely seemed true for Andi and her parents. When she overheard her father on the phone stating that he blamed himself for Truman's death, I so wished Andi would've gone to him at that moment and shared that she also blamed herself. It felt like an emotional moment was lost in the story. At the same time, the ending between her and her father was realistic.
Overall I had a tough time choosing between three and four stars, so I'll say 3 1/2 and round up.