Published by Macmillan Children's Books in April 2012
The night before junior year - I was sixteen, barely - Gable Arsley said he wanted to sleep with me. Not in the distant or semi-distant future either. Right then.
Admittedly, my taste in boys wasn't so great. I was attracted to the sort who weren't in the habit of asking permission to do anything. Boys like my father, I guess.
In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidentally poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.
This is the first book that I have read by Gabrielle Zevin and I am so annoyed with myself for not picking up one of her books sooner. I think I may have fallen in love with her writing; the words just leaped off the page and burrowed a little hole into my heart. I loved this book so much I wanted to be in it!
Anya is seriously one of the strongest characters I have read about in ages. She is the glue that holds her dysfunctional yet unique family together. Her father trained her well in the ways of the world and she will stop at nothing to protect her close relatives. In this day and age, she would be knocking Cameron out of the No 10 hotseat and diving in as the next female Prime Minister. She is spirited and selfless, willing to stand up to Mafia style family members and suffering real torture in order to save the lives of others. Anya's powerful feelings of love for her father are consistent throughout the book and you never see them waver. He had such a huge influence over her childhood that she seems to have put him on a pedestal, which I hope he doesn't fall from in future books.
All the characters in the book are extremely well written and realistic. Their relationships to each other are complex and intriguing. I loved Leo so much! He reminded me of Lenny in 'Of Mice And Men', with his innocent mind wrapped in a man's body. I just wanted to hug him and make him believe that everything will one day be OK. I loved that Win was the complete opposite of Anya; he was quieter, more in tune with his feelings and able to show emotion, bringing out a softer side to Anya.
I love the setting of the book - New York in 2082, where chocolate and coffee have become banned substances. I came away from the book grateful for the things that I take for granted. The futuristic New York was completely believable and just a little scary. The Liberty Children's Home sounded like prison, with Mrs Cobrawick on hand to give Annie's Miss Hannigan a run for her money as the worst child care supervisor EVER! She was just plain evil.
The book isn't fast paced at all, yet there is a lot of drama and difficult situations within the story. The plot allows the characters to infiltrate your heart so that you desperately want to know more about them.
I don't think I can actually put into words how much I loved this book and I am extremely excited to think that there may be more from Anya in the future. As the book is labelled as Birthright 1, I am hoping this is definitely a series. If I could buy you all a copy, I would! Seriously go buy it now and read it.
An exquisite tale of a young girl's desperate attempts to live a normal life.