REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly is a fascinating story of parallel lives: that of depressed and grief stricken contemporary teenager, Andi Alpers, and Alex Paradis, a young woman trapped amid The Terror of the French Revolution. When Andi discovers Alex’s 18th century diary during a visit to Paris, their stories become entwined via their shared pain: devastation and guilt over the loss of a loved one; and their shared passion: music. This is wonderful read and there is much to admire here, including the seamless blend of contemporary and historical fiction. If I had to chose one aspect of the novel that spoke to me, it would be the importance of music (art) and its potential to provide hope and redemption. Highly recommended.

those_who_save_us1-2011-12-13-09-51.jpg Like REVOLUTION, THOSE WHO SAVE US by Jenna Blum also alternates between contemporary and historical narratives. The novel centers on estranged mother and daughter, Anna and Trudy, and what happens when Trudy, a college professor working on a WWII oral histories project, discovers the truth about her father—a man she believes to have been a commandant at Buchenwald. This thought provoking story probes the lives of non-Jewish Germans in WWII Germany. It is a brutal, unflinching look at survival under challenging circumstances. THOSE WHO SAVE US will make you ask yourself what you’d do under such conditions, and at the same time leave you hoping and praying you never have to find out.