Friday, November 11, 2011

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

The Balanchine family is the biggest supplier of illegal chocolate in all of the United States, but Anya Balanchine wants nothing to do with it.  Anya's father and mother are both dead because of involvement in the crime world (her father was the city's most notorious crime boss) and her older brother was brain damaged.  All Anya cares about is keeping her brother and sister safe and out of any involvement with the family business and trying not to get involved with Win, who happens to be the new assistant DA's son.  This becomes harder when poisoned chocolate starts showing up around the city and the police think Anya did it. 

I was a big fan of Gabrielle Zevin's Elsewhere.  It was a book that really made me think about things.  And it had a relationship between two people that seemed realistic and organic and made sense.  I was therefore unsurprised that I liked All These Things I've Done very much as well.

I'm still confused about one thing though.  I'm unclear as to why chocolate and coffee are illegal.  I understand about the water restrictions, that made sense with the way the world was currently, but why were coffee and chocolate illegal?  Why not just highly taxed if they're luxury items that are difficult to import?  So I would have appreciated that being fleshed out a bit more, but otherwise I feel like I had a pretty good handle on the world and how things got the way they were in the book.

Gabrielle Zevin created another relationship I enjoyed reading about.  First of all, it was kind of a relief to read about a relationship where the girl is the one trying to protect the boy, and the boy is the delicate one.  And I mean delicate as in not as hard boiled as Anya was.  Win's father referred to him as soft, but he wasn't soft as in weak (although I think his father meant that too).  Win just didn't have the world experience that Anya did, and so she tried to protect him.  She didn't want him to get hurt because he was entangled in her family business, which unfortunately often led to injury or death.  There was an attraction between them when they first meet, but then it builds into an actual relationship as they get to know each other better and Anya gets to see what kind of person Win really is, which is a very nice one, and one she doesn't feel like she deserves. 

This is definitely book for a more mature reader.  There's descriptions of the violence that has happened in Anya's family.  Anya spends some time at Liberty Island when she's been accused of poisoning, and the conditions are pretty terrible.  Anya is an incredibly realistic person and she knows what's important to her.  She knows what she should do, but loving Win makes doing what she knows is right so much harder.

I hope the next in the series comes out soon!

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