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 angry at the world for taking her younger brother, Truman. Rage and grief are destroying her. And her father has determined that Andi's accompanying him to Paris over winter break is the solution to everything.
But Paris is a city of ghosts for Andi. And when she finds a centuries-old diary, the ghosts begin to walk off the page. Alexandrine, the owner of the journal, knew heartbreak also, and Andi finds comfort in the girl's words. Until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present.
The blurb just does this book no justice whatsoever. The blurb is simply interesting. The book is gorgeous. Ms. Donnelly juggles several different themes here - the past's relationship with the present, the parallels between Alex and Andi's lives, and the different ways the characters channel their grief - and she weaves them together with haunting, beautiful prose.
I was particularly impressed with Andi and Alex's distinct voices. I appreciated that even though Andi is a troubled character, Ms. Donnelly never went for the cheap teen angst. Andi has lighter moments as well, and I was truly sympathizing with her and rooting for her. I'm surprised at how much I ended up loving Alex, though. I loved that she didn't start off as a particularly good person, but she becomes such a quietly inspiring figure by the end of the book. The supporting characters were well-drawn, and though I'm notoriously hard to please when it comes to romance, this one really won me over.
This is not the sort of book to tackle if you're looking for something light - even in the book's happier moments, there's an undercurrent of melancholy. But overall it was a very uplifting, very engaging read. I highly recommend it.
And on an unrelated note, hi! I'm Becky, and I'm happy to be the newest member of Afterglow. I'll do my best to make these reviews coherent!