Frankly, if a book has the word revolution in the title, I am more apt to pick it up. There is something about fighting for freedom and liberty against an oppressor that really resonates within me. Friends, I read My Own Revolution by Carolyn Marsden, a historical fiction book set in Czechoslovakia in one sitting. It’s one of those books where I was learning something, but at the same time I was so wrapped up in the plot and machinations of characters that I didn’t realize I was learning which is kind of awesome, come to think of it.
Patrik is 14 and lives under the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia. Life is not that awful for Patrick and his family because his dad is a psychiatrist therefore they have enough to eat and go on vacation. However, Patrik chafes against the regime, and so he commits tiny little quiet acts of rebellion. Yet, some facets of Patrik’s lives should be familiar to us. He is madly in love with his upstairs neighbor Danika, who is also his best friend. But then unfortunately, Danika begins dating the new guy, who is a party member and Patrik throws caution to the wind, acting out so badly that it impacts his family.
The main character of My Own Revolution by Carolyn Marsden typical teenage boy who happens to be living in 1960s Communist Czechoslovakia. He just wants to listen to the latest Beatles record with his friends and play silly pranks. Patrik is quite similar to several teenagers that I have known. He wants to be able to speak his mind without the repercussions of ending up working in the mines merely for having an opinion. I also found Patrik to be incredibly brave. It takes courage for even a small act of defiance, so I thought the ways that Patrik would rebel just a little bit every day was indicative of his character. As a reader, I thought Patrik was a captivating narrator.
While the romance in My Own Revolution is rather chaste, because it’s unrequited, I thought it was sweet. I thought Marsden perfectly captures that broken hearted feeling when someone doesn’t love you quite the way you want them to. And to add insult to injury, Patrik may not even be able to trust Danika. It’s not exactly an upper, reading about the relationship between the two. I mean, I liked reading about them acting like best friends, but when Patrik catches feelings for her, it’s heartbreaking how Danika reacts. I think teens will be able to relate to the unrequited relationship, minus the whole girl might turn you in to the Party thing.
Carolyn Marsden’s writing style lends itself to marathon reading. If you are doing a 24 hour readathon, this book would be a great choice. The syntax is pretty simple, besides some of the names, it’s really not that hard to read. Marsden doesn’t waste words. My Own Revolution hardly feels bloated, but instead sparse. On the one hand, I wish it was longer, but on the other, I think the short length allows a strict focus on the story and Patrik’s quiet revolutions, both within and without. We have a tight focus on Patrik’s change from being a bit selfish and egocentric, to him actually putting himself at risk and making big decisions just to help his family. I think the writing and the plot follows a natural progression, none of it is confusing. I never had to go back and re-read just to understand what is going on. That stated, I also did not find myself dog-earing any pages for future reference.
My Own Revolution by Carolyn Marsden taught me a little about about life in Communist Czechoslovakia for teenagers in a single sitting, not bad for such a slim book. I think this one’s going to be a more quieter sort of release, but it’s definitely a good read and worth it if you want to know more about Communism in Eastern Europe, but perhaps are not emotionally ready for the gut punch of Between Shades Of Gray by Ruta Septys.
Disclosure: Received for review.
Other reviews of My Own Revolution by Carolyn Marsden:
Angelhorn – “ I was very surprised at my discomfort.”