Title: Ana of California
Author: Andi Teran
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: June 30th 2015
Genre: Adult, Young Adult crossover, Fiction, Retellings, Coming of Age, Contemporary
Appropriate for YA audiences.
A modern take on the classic coming-of-age novel, inspired by Anne of Green Gables
In the grand tradition of Anne of Green Gables, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and The Three Weissmanns of Westport, Andi Teran’s captivating debut novel offers a contemporary twist on a beloved classic. Fifteen-year-old orphan Ana Cortez has just blown her last chance with a foster family. It’s a group home next—unless she agrees to leave East Los Angeles for a farm trainee program in Northern California.
When she first arrives, Ana can’t tell a tomato plant from a blackberry bush, and Emmett Garber is skeptical that this slight city girl can be any help on his farm. His sister Abbie, however, thinks Ana might be just what they need. Ana comes to love Garber Farm, and even Emmett has to admit that her hard work is an asset. But when she inadvertently stirs up trouble in town, Ana is afraid she might have ruined her last chance at finding a place to belong.
One thing that I liked about this story was that the author kept the same concept of Anne of Green Gables in the way she told the story of Ana of California. All of Andi Teran’s characters were believable in how they were described and interacted with each other, and I really enjoyed some of the backstory we got not only on Ana, but on the people surrounding her in Hadley.
Ana of California is the story of a teenage girl who is running out of foster homes that will take her in California. Her social worker comes up with the idea of getting Ana a job and emancipating her so that she won’t have to go back into a group home. This leads Ana to Hadley, to a farm in a small time where everyone knows everyone. This will be a shock to this city girl as she has to learn her place not only on the farm but in Hadley.
In Hadley, Ana meets Emmett and Abbie, her guardians, and the owners of the farm. Through them she meets a whole new cast of characters including Manny, the farm hand who becomes her confidant, Rye who becomes her BFF, though she doesn’t quite understand what a BFF is, and Cole, the bad boy from across the creek that Emmett wants her to stay away from.
I loved the character of Abbie, she was the mother figure in the story. The one who had a past she “ran” from, but wants to be the one to help Ana become the person she is meant to be. You can see right away that Abbie needs Ana as much as Ana needs her. Emmett, was the gruff man with a hard past who hasn’t stepped foot out of Hadley, and was not really happy to find out that Ana was a girl, but you can see him softening towards her throughout the book.
I wanted to like Rye, but I could tell that she let the fact that she was different and teased at school become the focus of her relationship with Ana. I hated, absolutely hated what Rye did to Ana, and was happy when she redeemed herself, but I still feel that Rye could have been a better friend. I loved Ana’s relationship with Cole, the fact that they both needed someone to talk to, someone who knew what it was like to “lose” family or not want to be around the one they had. Their blossoming romance was a focus of the book, but not the main focus. I liked that aspect.
While I did enjoy this book, I felt like sometimes the transition from who was “speaking” was a little confusing, but it was nice to see multiple points of view,
The end of the book, I want to say was probably my favorite part, not because it was the end, but because it brought around the culmination of the relationships established. In the climax of the story, Cole and Ana missing, you actually saw how much Emmett cared about Ana, and it wasn’t only on behalf of how much Abbie cared. We saw Cole’s mother come to terms with what was happening in their lives, and while I feel like she needed to loosen up a bit, you could see that she loved her son, but maybe Hadley wasn’t the place for them.
All in all it was a good ending for the story. Usually I don’t like books that just end, but with this book it worked.
Andi Teran is a writer and performer originally from the deserts of West Texas. She has written about fashion, film, and culture for Vanity Fair, MTV, New York, and Monocle, as well as written and performed for various New York stages. She lives in Los Angeles. Ana of California is her first novel.
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