Published by Penguin Books
Pub Date: June 30th 2015
Format: eARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Adult Fiction
Buy the book! | Goodreads
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.
Thank you to Penguin Books and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this title.
Confession: I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables although my mom tried to get me to watch Avonlea as a child. But I always meant to and I like to read retellings and modern twists on stories. I was drawn to Ana of California by the premise, as well as the lush summer feel of the cover. Unfortunately this book wasn’t for me and I wasn’t able to finish, but I can definitely see it working for the right reader!
The writing was lovely; I really loved the descriptions of Garber Farm and Hadley. Living in Northern California, I’ve seen similar small communities and can picture the quaintess of the town. And the delightful description of Abbie’s kitchen reminded me of a rustic Pinterest wedding or an HGTV kitchen! Well-built, farm chic, and cozy. Abbie was my favorite character; she had an interesting backstory and lots of warmth, while I didn’t feel like we got to know Emmett as well.
I had mixed feelings about Ana. I appreciated her story and learning about her difficult life and her attempt to make Garber Farms a good situation. But the way she talked confused me; she sounded naive and too adult all at once. It was the way she spoke and her choice of words, but maybe that came from all her time spent in the library. And the extreme politeness seems like a product of her experience in the foster home system. But something about her speech didn’t ring true to me, sounding weirdly poetic. I liked her as a character though! And I liked her willingness to work hard and open up to new people.
This is a slower-paced, read-it-on-the-beach-or-back-porch kind of novel, which is perfect for summer. I had some trouble connecting emotionally with the characters but I think readers looking for diversity mixed with nostalgia for an old favorite wrapped in picturesque writing will enjoy Ana of California. I hope the book will work for you if you decide to give it a try!