Thursday, September 13, 2012

ARC Review: Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin

Because It Is My Blood
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (September 18, 2012)

Description: “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.

My Thoughts: Anya Balanchine has a lot to deal with for a seventeen-year-old. She is the daughter of a chocolate mafioso who ran Balanchine Chocolate before his death. When the story begins, Anya is just getting out of Liberty Children's Facility where she was sent after shooting someone. All the details can be found in the first book in this series - All These Things I've Done.

Anya faces a number of problems. She needs to find a school to accept her so that she can graduate. She has to get over her boyfriend and love of her life - Win - because that was the deal she made with his father who is running for District Attorney. She needs to figure out her role in Balanchine Chocolate when she doesn't really trust any of her relatives. Just as she is starting to get settled problems arise when photos of her and Win are leaked to the press which makes Win's father decide to sent her back to Liberty. Her lawyers help her escape and send her to a cacao plantation in Mexico.

Anya had developed strong negative feeling for chocolate after the happenings in the first book in this series. But learning about it and seeing the attitude toward it in Mexico change her mind. She makes friends on the plantation and learns a lot about chocolate production. And, while she is lonely, she is content to learn and wait. That is, she is content until a masked gunman invades the plantation and tries to kill her. She learns that an attempt has also been made on her sister's life in New York and a successful attempt has been made on her brother's life in Japan. Anya has to come back to New York to find out who is targeting her family and to do something about it. 

I liked Anya very much in this story. She has grown up quite a bit since the first book. While she still asks herself what her father would do when she is in trying situations, she is more likely to find and take her own path than do what he would have done. I liked her relationship with Win. She wants to protect him even if it means not being part of his life. He is the one who has to make most of the accommodations in their relationship because she is determined to follow her own path. I liked Anya's love and loyalty to her family. 

I liked the world that Zevin built here. A future where chocolate and caffeine are both banned substances is a foreseeable future. Following from that leads quite naturally to a criminal organization determined to supply the banned substances. 

I liked the first person narration of this story and even enjoyed Anya's occasional asides to the reader. (But I would also have liked to see the story from Win's point of view.) I think readers will empathize with Anya's situation and will be interested in her story.

Favorite Quote (Quote may not be exactly the same in the final book):
"Where I'm from, we're taught something different," I told him. "We're taught that the main reason cacao became illegal was because it was unhealthy."

Theo stopped and stared at me. "Anya, where do you hear such lies? Cacao is not unhealthy! The opposite! It is good for the heart, the eyes, the blood pressure, and just about everything else."
I received this ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here

1 comment:

  1. Lol! I like that quote, too. I haven't read the first book. Is it important to read it before starting this one?


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