Gabrielle Zevin is coming to my library for an author visit. All These Things I’ve Done is my favorite book of hers I’ve read so far. 16-year-old Anya is the daughter of notorious mafia boss, Leonyd Balanchine. He and her mother were murdered so it is up to Anya to take care of her special needs older brother, Leo and her little sister, Natty. Their legal guardian is Galina, their bedridden grandmother who is in extremely poor health. It is the year 2083 where water is scarce. Chocolate and caffeine are illegal. Very few people have cell phones and if you want to send an email you have to pay first. The Balanchine crime family deals in chocolate. They were chocolate makers before it became a banned substance. The book brings up interesting discussion points about what could be made illegal and why. She goes to catholic school where she meets and adorable new boy named Win. Win just happens to be the son of the new and very ambitious Assistant DA. You can see where this is going. Anya is a strong female character who makes difficult choices to keep her brother and sister safe. Readers who love The Hunger Games will enjoy her. She reminds me of Katniss with her ability to made personal sacrifices for the people she loves. Zevin did a great job world building to create this dystopian future and characters I cared about. Adult readers who like The Sopranos will like this mafia tale. Galina reminds me a little of Livia Soprano in that she could have been a strong mobster in her own right. I enjoyed this star crossed lovers romance. Book 2 in the Birthright series, Because It Is My Blood, comes out on September 18th. I look forward to getting my hands on it to find out what happens.
Some ideas for discussing with teens:
Why do you think chocolate is now illegal?
If you could make something illegal what would it be and why?
Talk about the differences between Win and the boys Anya is used to.
Anya knows she may have to give Win up to protect her family. What would you do?
Talk about the vintage clothes. What would you want to keep in your closet?
Anya and her friends do not have cell phones or texting. What do you think that is like? How would that change your relationships?
The book takes place in the year 2083. What do you think it will be like then?
Compare Anya with Katniss from The Hunger Games.