Ana of California
By Andi Teran
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Una
In ANA OF CALIFORNIA, fifteen-year-old orphan Ana Cortez (“one n, like fauna—not Anna, like ‘banana’”) has just blown it with another foster family. It’s a group home next—unless she agrees to attend a farm trainee program in Northern California, run by brother and sister Abbie and Emmett Garber. If she works hard, she’ll be allowed to stay on and file for emancipation when she turns sixteen. Having lived in East L.A. all her life, Ana doesn’t know a tomato plant from a blackberry bush, but she’s out of options.
Despite being unskilled and unprepared for hard-working farm life, Ana quickly comes to love Garber Farm and the small town of Hadley. She makes friends with Rye, the daughter of Abbie’s best friend, finds a mentor in Manny, Garber Farm’s foreman, and keeps running into the cute but hard to read Cole Brannan. But when she inadvertently stirs up trouble in town, Ana is afraid she’s ruined her last chance at finding a place to belong. Where can she go once she’s used up all her options?
In the grand tradition of Anne of Green Gables, The Three Weissmanns of Westport, and Clueless, Andi Teran’s captivating debut novel offers a contemporary twist on a beloved classic.
Having read the Anne of Green Gables books when I was younger I truly wondered how the story could be brought into a modern day setting but Andi Teran has done just that. The similarities are there if you had read the Anne books but the book stands alone if you haven’t read them.
Ana is a troubled teen with a violent past. Having not adjusted to foster care the farm trainee program is her last chance. The program is run by the Garbers, a brother sister duo. Emmett Garber looks in disdain as he picks up Ana. What good is a girl for farm work? He had wanted a boy for the program. Abbie his sister on the other hand is delighted Ana is a girl and forms a bond.
With hard work and caring people Ana realizes that the farm is what she needs. She finds a friend in Rye, in neighboring Hadley and the two become inseparable. Like the story of Anne there is a modern version of the drinking cordial episode that threatens their friendship. Ana also begins a relationship with Cole another troubled teen. This relationship too is doomed. Ana is now frightened she will lose the only hope of happiness she has ever had.
Andi Teran keeps the story close to the story of Anne of Green Gables but brings it into the present so that it is an exciting modern story with good flow. This is a great summer read and I look forward to more books by Andi Teran.