Book Review: In the Age of Love and Chocolate

Book Review: In the Age of Love and ChocolateIn the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin
Series: Birthright #3
Published by Macmillan on October 29th 2013
Pages: 368
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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.

In the Age of Love and Chocolate is the final book in the Birthright series, one which introduced me to one of my favorite heroines Anya Ballanchine. I am often shocked by the turn of events in these books, this last one bringing forth some twists I did not see coming. Anya makes some very interesting choices in this book that lead her down a darker path than we’ve seen in the past. In the Age of Love and Chocolate is the book where Anya has more internal struggles, ones that started to break my heart and made her more human than the other two books.

While Anya is very calculating in her decisions, she finds herself regretting and rethinking how she came to her decisions. I liked seeing her at her weakest in this book, and it gave her thick skin a bit of shove over to being sensitive.

Beyond Anya, I loved seeing more of my favorite characters. Theo is by far my favorite characters and one I wish that Anya would have fallen in love with. He’s the choice that makes the most sense, but while they have a short fling in the book, she seems incapable of loving anyone other than Win. I love that he gets more involved in Anya’s life in this book as I loved him in the second novel.

Charles, Win’s father starts to shine a lot more as a good person than the evil father who doesn’t want his boy near Anya. I loved the role he played in this last book, giving Anya a father figure that she may eventually be able to look up to. Win himself is not as active in this book until the end, but he pops up here and there, never letting the reader quite write him off, even when Anya seems uninterested.

Yuji has a solid appearance in this book as well, proposing again to Anya, but with a more business approach. Anya grows because of the situation; although she regrets her decision as it becomes apparent to everyone she loves. Her own sister Natty starts her own deviant behavior and we see Anya trying to step up into the role of a parent, but being inadequate sends her packing. She selfishly wants to keep Natty close, but knows she cannot run a business and try to mother her own sister at the same time.

I really am sad to say goodbye to this series, Anya will forever be one of my favorite female heroines, as she walks the line closely between good and evil. In the Age of Love and Chocolate left me with wanting more, with seeing what would happen in Anya’s future, but giving me enough to just barely be satisfied.

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