All These Things I've Done (Birthright #1) by Gabrielle Zevin
Publication September 6th 2011/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
It's 2083 in New York City. Sixteen year old Anya Balanchine is the parentless daughter of the deceased mobster Leoynard, whose trade was in the illegal chocolate business. She lives with her ailing Grandmother, her somewhat mentally disabled brother Leo and her twelve year old sister, Natty. Her life is busy enough taking care of her family but now, her ex-boyfriend has been poisoned from her family chocolate and she's caught the attention of the new boy, Win, who just so happens to also be the new District Attorney's son.
When I read the blurb for this book, I thought it was going to be, for lack of a better word, a very cool read. So, I was little disappointed. It is set within a mafia family so I expected a more action-style novel. It was actually quite a slow paced book for one that is set in the mob-world.
A theme a noticed which permeates throughout it loyalty. Anya is wholly dedicated to her family and keeping them safe. She makes
sacrifices for them and does not regret giving up her time to make them happy and safe. Although, her love towards her extended family is not as strong, she is loyal to them. She bares them, especially when Leo begins working for their uncle and cousins.
A sub-plot is also noticeable between Win and his Dad, where loyalty is not as big deal to them. Win does not exactly show much love towards his father and vice versa. Win's father is willing to put Win's happiness on the line just so he can have a peaceful job.
Loyalty is also a large basis for Anya's and her best friend, Scarlet's friendship. Throughout the book, they have arguments that, at the end of day come down to loyalty.
I liked Anya's character. Although, for a sixteen year old, Zevin's narrative for Anya was a little too formal. I understand that she is very mature for her age, but in some places of the book, Anya comes off sounding too old for age.
The other characters in the book such as Scarlet, Win, Leo and Natty brought different feeling to the book as all the characters are significantly different, which was good writing on Zevin's behalf. These characters were well needed. Even Gable add a bit off humor to the book which helped lighten it.
All These Things I've Done is a pleasant read. It shows, unlike many YA books, that actions have consequences and even though they may be undesirable consequences, one must grit and bare them. The book was slow paced in parts and felt, at times, more of a romance novel, but overall, it is a good read.