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All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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When we think about the future, we tend to imagine a silvery world, dripping in technological advances and glamour. But picture this: a crime-ridden New York City oozing poverty and depression. Chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, and water is increasingly scarce. This is how author Gabrielle Zevin imagines life to be like in 2083, or at least how she depicts it in her novel, All These Things I’ve Done.
Protagonist, Anya Balanchine, is a good catholic, the caretaker of her siblings and dying grandmother, and the sixteen year-old daughter of the city’s most notorious (and dead) crime boss. In order to protect her family, Anya is just trying to get through life unnoticed. However, between conflict with her jerk of and ex-boyfriend, and the excitement of a new, forbidden love, Anya ends up unwillingly in the spotlight- the topic of school gossip, on the front page of the newspaper, and most of all; within her “mafiya” family.

Anya finds herself growing up even faster than she already has (a theme consistent throughout the story), and wishing for her father more and more everyday. Even though he was a “bad guy”, Anya admired him for his strength and for the fact that he was always putting his family first. “Daddy always said that the most useless of all human emotions was self-pity” Anya explains on page 162 (she explains a lot of “Daddy’s” sayings), but who wouldn’t have bucket-loads of self-pity if they were a sixteen year old orphan living under the microscope of a notorious crime family and not to mention her love interest’s father, the DA?

Zevin’s novel is filled with plenty of suspenseful action and smart dialogue, but most of all includes a thrilling Romeo and Juliet-esque love story. Think of how romantic it is; the DA’s sensitive son falling for the damaged, infamous daughter of the leading crime boss in the chocolate business (hey, it sounds corny, but it really is adorable!). Teenage girls would kill to have a relationship like this- no matter how it ends.
It is easy for the reader to drown in Anya’s insightful thoughts and become engrossed with her fresh personality- you will be rooting for her during the entire book! The way she explains her feelings and surroundings gave me an indescribable feeling. The characters are lovable- and unlovable- making the story real and relatable. I found myself laughing out loud during certain parts, and constantly comparing Anya’s situation to my own- not that I’m suggesting I witnessed my father’s murder, or have ever handled a gun in my life!
Although the story was somewhat unreal at parts, I never questioned Zevin’s motives or imagination. I loved the fast pace of the plot and the fact that every time something would be solved, another conflict would rise. This book is not unlike her others; catchy and out of the ordinary. Praise for Zevin and her ALA Teen’s Top Ten Nominee; I would definitely give two thumbs up for this novel and I can’t wait to read the sequel, Because it’s My Blood!





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