Sep 26, 2011
Review - All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
September 6th, 2011 from Farrar Straus Giroux
In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.
I waited in line for this ARC at ALA in New Orleans this summer. They served chocolate and coffee too! Read the review...then you'll understand why that was cool.
Being the daughter of a notorious chocolate crime boss has it's perks. You get into good clubs, you have friends in low places, and you have an endless supply of chocolate. For sixteen-year-old Anya Balanchine, the perks don't outweigh the fact that she is constantly under a watchful eye, people over estimate her, underestimate her, and some would rather she disappear all together. Let me catch you up. The year is 2083 and chocolate and just about everything is illegal. When her piece of bleep boyfriend gets poisoned after eating one Anya's chocolate bars, her life is turned upside down. She spends time in the clink, the pool, and in confession.
I jump at the chance to read absolutely anything set in the future. I suppose I'm a Sci-Geek. Well, this one isn't exactly science fiction, you see. This is a contemporary that happens to be set 70 years in the future. No flying cars, no brain scanners, and no high tech lingo here. Even email is barely mentioned (you have to pay for that, btw). Anya is just a regular girl with the same problems as any girl in 2011. Her ex is a royal jerk, she only has a handful of friends, and she has family issues. Although, her family issues are a bit more complicated than the rest of us. Anya's father was murdered in their apartment in NYC when she was a little girl (mother died of an accidental hit years before that) and she would just like to forget that her family is always on the wrong side of the law. Her family's back story is revealed in little snippets through out the first half of the book. The pacing was great. Not revealing all in one or two chapters kept me tuned to the story and it also added a sense of mystery. Why is Anya being raised by her gravely ill grandmother? What exactly is wrong with her brother? All things come in good time!
As if the whole illegal chocolate thing didn't create enough conflict, Anya gets the attention of a boy. A cute boy. A cute boy that is new to town. A cute boy that is new to town and happens to be the son of the #2 dude in the District Attorney's office. Yeahhhhhh, conflict. Anya and Win truly have an impossible romance. I liked the development of this plot line. It was slow, believable, and Anya was smart when she weighed the pros and cons of being with someone whose father had the potential to ruin her life. I appreciate her maturity and not simply throwing caution to the wind for the sake of love.
All of the characters were believable. Again, you can find them right here in 2011. Her mafia family members are a bunch of hooligans. My skin crawled a few times when certain characters entered the picture. They do all of their "business" at an old pool that was part of a woman's swimming club. Even that is creepy! You just know they are bad news. Anya's relationship with her siblings and grandmother are endearing. Her willingness to put them first showed her maturity and her heart. She really stepped up to the plate after her parents were murdered and was the parent figure. It would have been so easy to paint Anya as a bitter girl out to get the world. She isn't like that, she sticks close to home and stays quiet in order to protect her family.
Another aspect that I enjoyed was the religious undertones. I wasn't expecting it, but they were there and it didn't feel forced or preachy. Anya understood why she went to church - to be closer to her dead mother - and she went to confession when her plate was overwhelmingly full. She thought about her beliefs when it came to her relationship with Win. She worried about what sin she would be causing if the two did this or that. Again, this girl had her head on straight!
My only issue (not even a real issue) was the point of view. In the very beginning, Anya is remembering her past by retelling us her story. "The night before junior year-I was sixteen, barely-....." At the end, there is not a wrap-up like, "And that was the best/worst time of my life....." Don't get me wrong, the ending was good, but I just don't think it was inline with the retelling. Hmmm, no matter.
There are no robots, but this futuristic contemporary has a romance that girls will be cheering for.
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