All These Things I’ve Done

Posted December 31, 2011 by Tara in Challenges /// 8 Comments

Not a very memorable title. I might forget the name of this book in the future.

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.

Tara

Tara is a PhD student studying education. Her dissertation will be on digital book communities as public pedagogy (ask her about it!), though she often takes a break from all of that to read books about oppressive governments and sassy teenagers. In a former life, she was a middle school teacher and middle school librarian. In her future life, she's a professor of YA lit. In her free time, she drinks a lot of coffee while planning her next grand adventure (there's always something).

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8 responses to “All These Things I’ve Done

  1. I really liked All These Things I’ve Done, but not enough to make my top 10 list either. I’ve read better this year. I do think it will appeal to the type of stupid that loves all things mafia. (Do they exist? I am a bit out of touch with youth ahahaha).

    Also agree with you re: Anya’s virginity. I think it’s not so black and white for real teenagers, nor should it be black and white for fictional kids either.

    • Miss Anderson

      Yes! I really like how writers are treating teen sexuality lately (in some books). I used to be able to predict how things would turn out, but now I am regularly surprised by the decisions characters make.

  2. I never read YA books, being a granbee; but I am entranced by your introduction to Anya. She seems like a heroine, not a princess. I applaud that in a fictional female, even when it is not masterfully written about.

  3. This book is on my to-be-read list, and like you I was expecting it to my dystopian. I think I will still read it to vary my blog but it was interesting to read your review and to be warned its nots going to be what I expected, thanks

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