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All These Things I’ve Done, by Gabrielle Zevin

February 9, 2012

  Unless it’s not completely obvious by now, I’m critiquing a creative piece. That’s what I believe a review to be. My review is about a book—this book, I mean, the one that is now balancing, of its own accord, in my hand. All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin sounds dangerous, I know. It is. But it’s worth the risk.

So, get this: a futuristic retelling of Prohibition—in this world, chocolate and coffee are illegal; so is the use of cell phones by teenagers. Paper and water are carefully rationed, but not so much for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the head crime boss in New York City. This harrowing tale is told from her perspective. It’s about the things she has to deal with, beyond the average person, and what she has to give up to protect her family, which has quite a history of its own. Her only wish is to stay out of the spotlight. But that turns out to be easier said than done. There are conflicts waiting for her within and beyond her mafia background.

With a brother injured and never fully recovered from when their mother was killed, a genius sister with horrific nightmares, a best friend who’s trying desperately to climb the social ladder, and an evil ex-boyfriend who’s been poisoned by her family’s illegal chocolate stash, Anya already has enough on her plate without the assistant DA’s son looking in her direction. When her grandmother falls ill and her brother gets into trouble, she may have to fulfill her birthright: boss of the largest illegal chocolate factory in New York.

This is Zevin’s third book, published after Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac; I believe it to be her best yet. She developed Anya as a reliable narrator who kept me surgically attached to the book for the afternoon it took me to read it. I believe this is the first novel in a series, and I await the next with great anticipation.

Zevin crafted this novel with stunning realism. Anya is a teenager trying to lead a normal life amidst the “bad guys.” I rated her story a ten out of ten for its unique descriptions and gripping plot structure, right up until the last page. Zevin equally balances plot, action, and character in the best way possible. I recommend All These Things I’ve Done to anyone looking for a compelling read about crime and the inside story of a mafia family with a Russian twist. This book spans all tastes and varieties: the perfect smoothie flavor.

D&M Publishers, Inc., 354 pages

Josie

Read more about this title on Amazon.com


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