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Lindsey's Literary Life

All These Things I've Done (Birthright)

All These Things I've Done  - Gabrielle Zevin Anya Balanchine, the daughter of a murdered crime boss in 2083 New York City, tries to distance herself from her family's illegal activities while taking care of an ailing grandmother, a mentally handicapped older brother, and a younger sister, all while dealing with her own typical teenage problems of bad boyfriends, school, new boyfriends, and trying to figure out who she is and where she fits into the world. Although Anya struggles to keep herself and her little family on the good side of bad she learns that there are just some things you can't escape, your last name and your past being two of them. Zevin has created one of the most interesting and frightening urban dystopian worlds to date in YA fiction. Natural resources are all but gone, museums are night clubs and, most disturbing of all, chocolate and coffee have been outlawed. I can take kids killing kids but, no chocolate and coffee? That's just barbaric! Speakeasy's serve espresso and Anya keeps her family's Balanchine Special Dark chocolate locked in a safe in the closet, hard times indeed. Anya, by virtue of necessity, is wise beyond her years and her first person narration is honest, self-deprecating, humorous and heartbreaking. Orphaned at a young age she has a very keen sense of the consequences of her actions and makes very mature and selfless choices as a result. It was refreshing a. not to have the ubiquitous YA love triangle and b. to have a smart teenage heroine who realizes that some things in life are more important than whether your boyfriend loves you or not. Although there is romance it was Anya's inevitable journey from high school junior and de facto head of her family to wrongly accused juvenile delinquent and (maybe? someday?) head of The Family all while never compromising her values as a "good catholic girl" and maintaining her strength and dignity throughout. This is a great start to an exciting new series and I can't wait for the next installment.