Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: October 2013
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Series or Stand Alone: Series, Book Three
Synopsis can be found here.
I purchased this book.
This is the last book in the Birthright series, featuring harsh yet awesome Anya Balanchine. Through the first two books, she has lost a lot of her family due to her life in organized crime (her family runs in the black market chocolate business) and has fallen in love with a boy who she has no business loving. She been arrested, on the run, been proposed to. She has been thrown into the family business whether she likes it or not. Now, we are at the end, and Anya is going to be making the toughest decisions so far.
This is more of an overview of the entire series so bear with me.
While All These Things I’ve Done started out slow, the series quickly picked up speed and by the end of the first book, I was pretty hooked. Yes, I was in love with Win. Because who wouldn’t be? And yes, I loved Anya. She frustrated me, making huge mistakes and bad choices. Her selfishness was severe and harsh, her judgement strong especially to those she claimed to love. I loved her drive and restlessness, and how sometimes not everyone can understand you and you have to leave some people behind. She makes some bad choices, ones that she regrets and by the third book, she is so frail and fragile, it’s a wonder it’s the same character. This is when I fell in love with Anya again- right here, vulnerable and unsure of herself. To be broken and brought down so low, and to find a way to rise up again. She’s a great heroine.
I loved Win, even when Win was awful. My heart broke fror them both and through the series I was always rooting for them to be together. This is especially difficult because I did really enjoy Theo, Anya’s business partner and chocolate supplier. Funny, warm and friendly, he was some much needed humor in the dark story.
Win’s father, Charles, aka arch-nemesis and by the end, father figure, has his own awesome story arc. He is ambitious and sometimes cruel, underhanded and untrustworthy, which makes him such a good opponent and eventually, partner. Their relationship changed drastically, but the mutual respect was always there. I liked how it built slowly into something else, something that could be counted on.
The secondary cast of characters are rich, especially best friend Scarlet and brother Leo and sister Natty. Their warm relationships with Anya made her feel more human, less like a cold lethal mob boss.
The writing style was unique and it took me a while to get used to it. It’s casual tone, as if Anya is speaking to you, recording her memoirs and telling her friend everything she wanted to say and couldn’t. Sometimes the narration is choppy, descriptions and feelings held back, imagined upon. But it’s easy to get used to and long after the third book was over, I went back to In The Age of Love and Chocolate to re-read my favorite scenes. Most having to do with Win. I especially the one where he tells Anya what she should tell her sister Natty.
The story of loyalty and family, blood and friends is well thought out and written. It did remind me of The Godfather, in a good way, and the tension and danger the characters were in felt very real. On a side note, I would never want to live in a world where chocolate and coffee were illegal! Crazy!
Overall, In The Age of Love and Chocolate was a perfect ending to this story. I’m sad to leave them behind but I’m excited to go back one day and read Anya’s tale again.
Rating 8 Cookie Worthy