In a not-too-distant future (the year 2083), New York City is crumbling under the weight of corruption. Supplies like water, cloth, and paper are being strictly rationed and chocolate and caffeine have been outlawed as dangerous substances. After witnessing the death of her father, the infamous crime boss and chocolate lord Leonyd Balanchine, sixteen-year-old Anya tries to stay out of the public eye and as far from her family’s chocolate empire as possible. Anya has enough to handle; she is responsible for her a precocious younger sister, an older brother with a traumatic brain injury and her dying grandmother, on top of keeping her studies up at the posh Catholic school where she is mostly ostracized for her unsavory family ties. Falling for a genuinely nice boy (who happens to be the new assistant district attorney’s son) was never in the plan. Caught up in the tides of a mafia upheaval, will Win Delacroix be her only port in a storm, or does their relationship spell her doom?
All These Things I’ve Done could have been just a Romeo-and-Juliet-type love story with a slightly dystopian flavor, but Anya’s conflicted family history and her relatable struggle with modern teenage trials (first love, high-school betrayal, yearning to go to college and escape her identity as a Balanchine) make her an easily accessible heroine with substantial dreams outside of her love affair. While this particular novel isn’t without issues, I can see why Gabrielle Zevin is a nationally bestselling author.
[I elaborate below. No spoilers]