Saturday, February 15, 2014
Review: In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin
All These Things I’ve Done, the first novel in the Birthright series, 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.
If I were to retitle this book it would be OMG ALL THE FEELS because this book was an emotional trainwreck of a book.
And I mean that in a GOOD way.
The final volume of the Birthright Trilogy picks up right where Because it is My Blood left off. Anya is opening a night club that specializes in cacao-based drinks with the help of Win’s father, the same man who worked to keep Win and Anya apart for the better part of the first two books. Although now Win and Anya are finished, and Anya’s career in the quasi-legal world of cacao-based drinks is just starting.
Even though the first two books read like YA, this volume doesn’t. Anya is out of school and living her life, so this book definitely has more of a New Adult vibe to it instead, as Anya tries to balance the care of her sister and her new career as a night club owner. From there, events begin to happen in rapid fire succession, enough to leave the reader wondering exactly how much time has passed (hint: Anya’s sister graduates from high school and goes to college in the time this book spans).
I really enjoyed this book, even though there were times the narration felt like more of a play by play than anything else. But it’s all worth it for the scenes between Anya and Win. The emotional factor is turned up to eleventy in this book, and those that like angst-y romances will gobble up the will they/won’t they back and forth between Win and Anya.
I really, really enjoyed this book. It was the perfect ending to the trilogy, and I actually liked getting to see the characters into their mid to late twenties. I’m not usually a fan of books that take characters past the necessary arc of their character development, but In the Age of Love and Chocolate worked for me.