Title: Because It Is My Blood (Birthright: Book the Second)
Author: Gabrielle Zevin
Genre: Dystopian, Thriller, Young Adult
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books (29th August 2013)
When Anya Balanchine is released from jail, she’s determined to put her life in order. She’s going to get over her ex, turn her back on her criminal family and concentrate on her siblings and her studies.
But her murdered father’s family have a different idea. They’re not going to let her walk away so easily.
When they take a hit out on her life, Anya’s forced to flee to Mexico. There she discovers that life isn’t all bad – but she also finds that, so far from home, it’s impossible to protect those she loves.
Doing nothing isn’t an option. But going to New York could kill her. Literally.
Rating: **** (4 stars)
Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin is the second book in the Birthright trilogy. It tells the story of Anya Balanchine, the eldest daughter of a dead mobster and the Head of her family, as she struggles to find her place in the world. She wants to escape the Balanchine name and its connections to the mob and chocolate, but at the same time she wants to uphold her father’s legacy. Things are going on in the Balanchine family which will force Anya to discover who she is.
I have been really looking forward to reading Because It Is My Blood. I really liked the world and characters Zevin created in All These Things I’ve Done, and I was curious about the fallout of Anya’s choices at the end of the novel. Because It Is My Blood did not disappoint me. I fell straight back into Anya’s world – where instead of banning alcohol during Prohibition, they banned chocolate instead – and directly into the story.
Because It Is My Blood starts the day before Anya completes her sentence and is released back into society. The book focuses on Anya trying to fit back into the world outside Liberty, and deal with the consequences of her choices. However, life is never easy for Anya, and her family take a hit out on her life forcing her to leave New York behind and flee to Mexico. Zevin’s choice of sending Anya to Mexico means that as readers we get to see a point of view about chocolate that is similar to our own, and it also offers the opportunity for Anya to grow. Unfortunately events send her back to New York where she faces some difficult choices. Zevin does a good job weaving the plot, and slowly revealing things – there is one revelation in particular I am hoping will be explored further in the final book.
I really enjoyed getting to meet Anya and her friends and family again. Zevin does a really good job in writing the characters, and they are believable – I like the fact that they all have their flaws. I think Anya herself displayed a lot of bravery and courage in this book, but Zevin still managed to keep her vulnerability. Scarlet was a good friend, though typically very self-centred. I also liked what Zevin did with Natty – she really seemed to have grown up in her summer without her sister, and she seems more self-confident although she still has traces of the Natty from the first book.
If you are a fan of mob based stories, or the idea of prohibition intrigues you then you should definitely consider this series. If you liked the first book in this series but haven’t had the opportunity to pick this one up, then I highly recommend that you do so – it will not disappoint.
Did you know Because It Is My Blood is available as an audiobook? You can listen to an extract from it below.