Ana of California By Andi Teran.
Penguin Original| June 30, 2015|256 pages |$16.00| ISBN: 978-0-14-312649-2
Fifteen-year-old orphan Ana survived a tough past. Her drug-dealing parents got shot to death and then the same happened to her beloved grandmother [seemingly a revenge plot] a few years later. Shuffled from foster home to foster home, deemed a difficult child, Ana spends a lot of time at the library pouring over films and music and books. That is her escape, her solace. Any child with that kind of traumatic background would have some issues and need a good therapist and definitely find it challenging to trust anyone. Her social worker gives her one last opportunity to live and work on a farm in Northern California.
“Ana Cortez didn’t need anyone to explain it to her: she understood the rhythm of repetitive work, knew all about aligning herself to the synergy of tedium. She was aware of all of the orphan clichés—the Pips, Pollyannas, and Pony boys whose optimism triumphed over difficult circumstances. She’d read all the books.”
This is a modern retelling of Anne of Green Gables. I know I read Anne of Green Gables. I’ve been an avid reader since I could read. My fondest youth literary memory remains for The Secret Garden by Frances Hodges Burnett. I don’t remember the story of Anne of Green Gables enough to compare Ana of California to it. Without that recollection I still enjoyed this novel.
Sister and brother pair Abbie and Emmett Garber operate their family farm. Abbie bakes, pickles and cooks while Emmett makes sure everything’s running on the farm. Ana befriends Rye who feels she’s somewhat of a misfit particularly as she’s come out as gay. She also meets a cute “bad boy” named Cole. Ana confronts her fears, learns a bit about getting along and becomes optimistic that she may be finally home. However a falling out with Rye and liaisons with Cole may threaten her comfortable situation in this rural northern California farm town.
Despite Ana’s unfortunate past there’s little pathos here. It’s light and breezy. Rather happy even. The novel progresses in an inevitable quaint manner at times but it’s a solid summer/weekend read. Ana is a spunky, spirited and extremely likable character. Ana’s grueling past receives the glossy treatment. Readers aren’t allowed to delve into it or truly feel Ana’s pain. The novel keeps a lighter tone which makes it a quick, light read.
–review by Amy Steele
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Penguin Random House.
GIVEAWAY: Giving away a copy of Ana of California as well as a copy of Anne of Green Gables to a U.S. resident courtesy of Penguin Random House. If interested please comment below and include your email address. Winner will be selected on July 15.
purchase at Amazon: Ana of California: A Novel