All These Things I've Done

All These Things I've Done  - Gabrielle Zevin "In 2083, chocolate and caffeine are illegal, water is carefully rationed, books are scarce, and New York City is rife with poverty and crime." That little blurb was found on the back of the ARC of All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin and that was what initially drew me to this story.

Anya Balanchine is not a typical sixteen year old. She has to see to the care of her aging and dying grandmother, as well as her twelve-year-old sister Nattie and nineteen-year-old brain-damaged brother Leo. If that wasn't difficult enough she must do this while attending school and dealing with the reputation forged by her family . . . her criminal, mafia-like family. It also doesn't help that her family has legitimate and illegitimate ties to the chocolate industry, especially when her ex-boyfriend becomes poisoned by her family's chocolate. Anya is, of course, the prime suspect. She is promptly arrested and thrown into juvenile detention. Fortunately for Anya, she had recently befriended Goodwin "Win" Delacroix, son of the new attorney in the District Attorney's office. Win's father is able to have her charges dismissed and she is sent home. But she returns to the same chaos she left behind, and now she must deal with family politics and scheming in order to protect her brother.

As I said earlier, Anya is not a typical sixteen year old. She was forced to grow up and assume adult controls at a very early age. It helps that she is a very smart young lady and likeable. She comes across as prickly but she is forced to weigh the pros and cons of any given situation before jumping in. She tries to be the protector for everyone . . . her sister, her brother, her best friend Scarlet, and her boyfriend Win. When tragedy strikes (expected in some form but startling nonetheless), Anya must also protect her immediate family and friends from her extended family.

Anya's story was captivating from beginning to end. Although this is classified as a YA book, I feel that it could easily be read and appreciated by many. All These Things I've Done provides great family and personal drama, romance, and intrigue set in not-too distant future in an all too believable dystopian society. I was a little saddened to leave Anya, Nattie, and Win until I learned that this was just the first in the Birthright series by Ms. Zevin. I eagerly await the next installment . . .