Title: Because It Is My Blood
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Published September 18th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Source: ARC provided by publisher
“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.
Dystopian novels are a dime-a-dozen these days, but it’s always interesting to see how they manage to set themselves apart from each other. It’s easy to differentiate Gabrielle Zevin’s Birthright trilogy and the latest installment, Because It Is My Blood. For one thing, yes, the society is corrupt and far from perfect, but it’s honestly not that different from our own. Switch the ‘Legalize Marijuana’ movement for the ‘Legalize Cacao’ movement. Add a few more stringent rules, like city-wide curfews for the underage. But the society is recognizable.
In Because It Is My Blood, Anya Balanchine still wants to go to college and finish her senior year of high school. She has boy troubles (oh, Nelly, does she have boy troubles), friend troubles, and family troubles…
And her family troubles not only put a target on her back, but remain the element that sucks me into this world set in the not-so-distant future. In case you’re late to the party, I’ll let you in on the most important things to know about this series: Chocolate is illegal. And the Balanchine family runs the underground business in New York.
Yep, friends. We’ve got some organized crime up in here. One of my favorite elements in a novel (that, frankly, I wish I saw a little more). It’s what endeared Anya to me. Most people are able to trust their family, but she can’t. I also enjoyed learning more about the ‘cacao’ business.
I’ll be honest with you though, Anya’s love interest? Win? Guy does nothing for me. I enjoyed the book so much more when he wasn’t around. Something about him drags on me, makes me feel like he’s whining, even when he’s not. Obviously that’s one of those super-subjective things. Some probably find him sweetly romantic.
To sum up: Organized crime = win. Check this ish out.