All These Things I’ve Done
By Gabrielle Zevin
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Library book from Junior Library Guild
[#3 in my 75 book challenge]
If you need a summary of the book, just take a look at the cover. Instead of having some cliche picture on there, we’ve got a list of the things going on: chocolate is contraband, caffeine is illegal, the city is riddled with crime, Anya is torn between accepting her birthright and following her heart.
When I picked this one out, I thought it was dystopian. While it sort of is, it’s really more like a mafia novel taking place in 2083. Anya’s family is in the chocolate business, making her father one of the most powerful men in the city…until he was murdered. Anya’s mother was also murdered, and her older brother was severely injured in hits on her family. Though her ailing nana is technically her guardian, Anya is basically in charge of keeping her family healthy and safe, while also trying to survive high school.
You probably noticed that the chocolate on the cover is in the shape of a heart. That’s right, kids — Anya falls in love! Romeo and Juliet-style, she’s falling in love with the Assistant DA’s son, Win (short for Goodwin). He’s so dreamy, he’s so perfect, he’s so atrractive. She’s so…Catholic. And waiting until marriage. Whilst Anya’s trying to figure all of this out, there’s drama, scandals, hits, attempted poisonings, and a lot of distrust going around “the family business.” I didn’t trust anyone, even at the very end. The ending was satisfying, but this is definitely a series and this book has a lot of loose ends.
In reading other reviews of the novel, I noticed that many people thought the story started out strong and fell flat in the middle. I disagree. I was bored at the beginning and found I liked it more at the end. Anya was realistic — yes, she falls victim to high school love and becomes distracted for a bit, but isn’t that understandable? I also felt her struggle with losing her virginity was realistic. It’s not as simple as “good, Catholic schoolgirls don’t do that” for her, there’s a bit more to it than that. I think it’s a struggle a lot of girls have when they really fall in love in high school. The entire premise of the novel was a little odd (why did they outlaw chocolate? Are the going to unveil more to that plot in later books?), but once I accepted that I read it as a love story. And, as has been the trend lately (hurrah!) Anya is a pretty kick-ass female protagonist.
Final Grade: C I’m still having a hard time with this rating system business, but I have to keep reminding myself that a C is a good grade. It was average book. Adequate. Kept me reading, kept my interest, and entertained me. However, I don’t think it’ll be making any Top 10 lists at the end of the year. It just isn’t going to be memorable. Worth a read if you like a good mafia story or love story, absolutely. Worth putting in the school library for sure. But I have a feeling many of my students will be returning it unread.