Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Becky's View: Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin
♦publisher: Farrar, Strauss, & Giroux
♦released: September 30th, 2012
♦hardcover, 350 pages
♦intended audience: Young adult
♦series: Birthright, book 2
  review of All These Things I've Done (book 1)
♦source: from publisher for honest review
“Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in.”- Michael Corleone, The Godfather 

Since her release from Liberty Children's Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship.But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It’s a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve--and her heart--will be tested as never before.

Review: That quote from The Godfather above almost perfectly sums up this book.  Because It Is My Blood is a fantastic follow up to All These Things I've Done and there were some especially great parts that made me wonder if I didn't like this one just a tiny bit more!

Once again, Anya is relaying her story as she is released from Liberty and tries to get her life back on track.  I love her POV, such a great mix of sensibility, frustration, wit, and the mafia-mentality that has shaped her life.  I did think it was a bit awkward when Anya addressed the reader directly---I think because it's a story that's being told 70 years in the future,  it somehow seemed off and disrupted the flow for me.  But that is literally my one and only complaint.  Once again, for a story that is just about a girl trying to get her life back to normal, the pace of this story just flies.  You really can't help but feel for her, in her fight against crooked politicians doing what ever they please with her to further themselves (one of which is her boyfriend's father) to her family of even more crooked gangsters vying for their chance to either take over the Balanchine empire...or take it down. As the story goes along, the people around her drop one by one from the already short list of people she can trust. 

One of my favorite parts about this story was Anya's time spent learning the cacao business in Mexico.  I loved the peek inside this exotic culture and seeing how a cacao farm was run, but I loved even more the introduction of Theo and his family.   Though these characters had a fairly quick spotlight in the story, they really made an impression---on me and definitely on Anya by giving her a glimpse of such a strong loving family. Theo and Anya had such fun chemistry and while they remained friends, I think their connection was so much more irresistible to read about than Anya and Win's, and while I'd hate to see it turn into a full-on love triangle, I do hope we get more of Theo in book 3!

There are some great emotional surprises (one in particular that brought me to tears!), some really interesting twists and discoveries and moral dilemmas as we head into the final chapter of this series.  Actually, I loved the fact that, while I knew a third book was planned, I finished Because It Is My Blood with enough satisfaction and knowledge of where each character was headed that it almost could have ended right there and I would have been completely happy.  Still, I've grown so attached to these characters that I can't wait to see what happens and what new surprises pop up in book 3.

Find Gabrielle Zevin online:  Website  •  Twitter  

Purchase Because It Is My Blood:  Amazon  •  BN.com  •  BookDepository  •  Indiebound

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