I’m out of town at a conference and figured I would do a WoW for once. I’ve been reading Gabrielle Zevin’s Tumbr and have knots in my stomach about the final installment in the “Birthright” trilogy.
“In the Age of Love and Chocolate” by Gabrielle Zevin
All These Things I’ve Done introduced us to timeless heroine Anya Balanchine, a plucky sixteen year old with the heart of a girl and the responsibilities of a grown woman. Now eighteen, life has been more bitter than sweet for Anya. She has lost her parents and her grandmother, and has spent the better part of her high school years in trouble with the law. Perhaps hardest of all, her decision to open a nightclub with her old nemesis Charles Delacroix has cost Anya her relationship with Win.
Still, it is Anya’s nature to soldier on. She puts the loss of Win behind her and focuses on her work. Against the odds, the nightclub becomes an enormous success, and Anya feels like she is on her way and that nothing will ever go wrong for her again. But after a terrible misjudgment leaves Anya fighting for her life, she is forced to reckon with her choices and to let people help her for the first time in her life.
In the Age of Love and Chocolate is the story of growing up and learning what love really is. It showcases the best of Gabrielle Zevin’s writing for young adults: the intricate characterization of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac and the big-heartedness of Elsewhere. It will make you remember why you loved her writing in the first place.
For a story about chocolate, the main character of Gabrielle Zevin’s “Birthright” trilogy isn’t sweet. But that’s okay, because the finest chocolate is actually dark and a little bitter, and that’s exactly what Anya Balanchine is — fierce and layered and completely uninterested in being “liked.” Anya is what she has to be to take care of her siblings and deal with belonging to a Russian mob family that runs the chocolate underground in New York City. Anya is one of the most compelling heroines in young adult literature, but I have a feeling, from everything Zevin has said and warned and foreshadowed on Twitter and Tumblr, that some readers (especially those invested in Anya’s romance with Win) will be shocked/saddened/disappointed by “In the Age of Love and Chocolate.”
Although I break for romance, and I am a big fan of Anya’s (former) boyfriend Win’s, I am excited to see where Zevin takes Anya in this new book. This is her story, not the story of Anya and Win’s eternal love. So no matter what happens, I’m ready, ready, ready for this epic dystopian’s last chapter. And how clever that the book’s title finishes a sentence started by her first novel: “All These Things I’ve Done… Because It Is My Blood… In the Age of Love and Chocolate.”
Thanks Breaking the Spine, for hosting Waiting On Wednesday.