All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan
It’s sixty years in the future and lots has changed. Coffee and chocolate are illegal, water is rationed, and conveniences taken for granted in 2012 (such as the ability to read a paper book) are almost completely unheard of. Anya Balanchine is living in this era, in New York City, and as the sixteen-year-old daughter of a very notorious deceased crime boss, she lives a surprisingly normal life. She lives with her sick grandmother, autistic older brother Leo, and younger sister Natalie and has the regular teenage concerns of falling in love with the wrong person (in her case, the assistant D.A.’s son). But when someone close to Anya is poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures, police turn their suspicions to her first and suddenly she can kiss her carefully constructed “normal” life goodbye.
This was a totally unexpected gem for me! I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up All These Things I’ve Done, just that I’d vaguely heard good things, but it surprised me in a really great way. First of all, the future that Zevin created, while being somewhat scary, wasn’t all that out-there. In other words, it was completely believable. I can see that in the future we will need to be rationing water, we will eventually run out of trees with which to make paper, and the kinds of crime make sense for what the characters of that time are up against. The only thing was that I didn’t completely understand why coffee and chocolate were illegal – it was explained but I felt that Zevin could have gone more into that. Also, I wanted to know how was life in other countries? Some of the illegal stuff was legal in other parts of the world, so I would have liked for Zevin to maybe explore/explain that more. But not to worry, this is a series, so perhaps we’ll get more world-building later on.
Anya! I loved her. Such a kick-ass, but normal, girl. I admired her for her ambition in keeping her family together against all odds, for her maturity in dealing with her relationships, and for her ability to maneuver very adult situations skillfully and with wisdom well beyond her years. I’m excited because it seems as though she’s just getting on the cusp of being involved in the family business, so I’m hoping that in the next book she will fully immerse herself in that world – which would entail even more mature, but kick-ass decisions and actions from her.
The love story was really well done here. I loved that Zevin wasn’t afraid to have her character take a stance on something and stick to it, that Anya wasn’t completely taken over by her emotions that she never forgot what was truly important in her life – her family. The love story was sweet but not anywhere close to the main focus of the book, and I appreciated that a lot.
I listened to All These Things I’ve Done on audio and the narrator, Ilyana Kadushin did an excellent job. She truly embodied the character of Anya for me. She had a youngish voice, but not too young, if that makes sense. Perfect for a teenage character who is required to make adult decisions.
I liked this one so much! Definitely looking forward to the second in the series.