30 August 2011

All the Things I've Done; Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've DoneAll These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like how Zevin creates a world but doesn't belabor it - in this case, we're in the year 2083, a time when all foods aren't readily available (like oranges), paper and cloth are rationed, you pay postage on e-mail, and there are vouchers for ice cream. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is now a nightclub, the Great Lawn in Central Park isn't grass, and the Statue of Liberty is reduced to what appears to be the very bottom of her dress and her feet. Yet this isn't a dystopia or a post-apocolyptic society! The weirdest things to me are that speakeasys serve coffee, and chocolate is a black market item.

We meet the three Balanchine siblings: Leo, who has a mental impairment thanks to a car accident when he was nine, Anya, who essentially functions as the head of the family, and Natty, a relatively normal 12-year-old. They're in the care of their grandmother, but Nana's dying; their mother was shot (causing the accident that Leo was in) as was their father (in his office, while Anya and Natty played beneath his desk). Leo Sr. was the head of a chocolate family, part of the Russian mafiyoso, and all three children are aware that they are somehow tainted by being part of the family. Despite that, Anya tries to see that they live normal lives.

Enter Win, who will become Anya's boyfriend - and because of her family, they are star-crossed lovers. There's also "bastard cousin" Jacks (and the term "bastard" is used in its correct sense) who, like any bad apple, is attempting to upset the cart. The yakuza, in the form of another of the Big Five chocolate Families, plays a role. All this against the backdrop of Anya's junior year in high school, at Holy Trinity (the best private school in the city).

At the end of the book, there are several loose ends: what will happen to Anya and Will? what about Leo? can the larger Balanchine Family survive, or will other Families take over? That there are loose ends, with no promise of a sequel (or sequels) is great! I wish more books ended this way.

ARC provided by publisher.

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