Friday, June 26, 2015

ARC Review: Ana of California by Andi Teran

Title: Ana of California
Author: Amdi Teran
Published: June 30, 2015 by Penguin
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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.

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher (thanks Penguin) via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact hasn't changed my opinion. ****

That's right friends, a modern retelling of Anne of Green Gables with a person of color. If it sounds fabulous that's because it is. When I started reading Ana of California of a Friday I thought it would be like most of the e-ARCs I read. I would read a little bit each day, take a break over the weekend, and finish in a week. But I was almost instantly hooked and didn't want to put it down. I found myself thinking about it when I was reading my other book and I had to go back to it. I ended up cruising through it, finishing it in a few days. I absolutely adored this book. The concept, the plot, the characters, the pacing. It was amazing.

It has been ages since I've read Anne of Green Gables... Ages. But when I started reading Ana of California all those fond memories came flooding back. And like all good retellings, the author, Andi Teran, perfectly captures the spirit of the classic novel while bringing the story into the 21st Century and making it something all it's own. There are moments of the plot that are taken directly from the original story like the brother and sister who are running a farm want a boy to help and end up with a girl and then there are other moments that are perfectly modernized, like the currant wine incident. I think whether you are a big Anne of Green Gables fan or haven't read the classic you will enjoy Ana of California. Indendently it's just a really good contemporary novel with a plot that captures your interest and will keep you reading from beginning to end. It's a really wonderful coming-of-age story about a young girl trying to find connection.

Speaking of that young girl, Ana Cortez is every bit the Anne Shirley you know and love. It's a good thing too because that's a lot to live up to and as the main character Ana has to carry much of the book which she does with the trademark spunk and precociousness. She is wise beyond her years and prone to speaking in purple prose as if were from a different time or place all together. She is also overly-dramatic and quick to temper which gets her into a lot of trouble but has a really great heart. She has been through a lot in her life but she is still an optimist and doesn't let the past ruin her future. It was easy to fall for Ana and want to see her succeed.

But the book is also full of fantastic secondary characters. Abbie and Emmett Garber are the perfect modern counterpart to the Cuthberts. They're not quite as hard on Ana as the Cuthberts are on Anne but they care just as much for her. I like the fact that the author flipped the roles so that the disciplinarian was Emmett and Abbie is the one that Ana has the connection with who understands her on a deeper level. It really worked for the story. And unlike Anne of Green Gables, this isn't just about our main character. The Garbers take some of the focus as well, with parts of the book told from their perspective. It did make things a little complicated at times but it also made for a well rounded story. But my personal favorite secondary character was Rye Moon. I also loved the author's modern spin on Diana Berry. Rye is the perfect "bosom friend" for Ana. She's a bit of a hipster and definitely a troublemaker but I found her fantastic and very entertaining. The only secondary character I didn't love was Cole Brannon. He's no Gilbert Blythe. I just didn't quite feel like Ana and Cole were equals like Anne and Gilbert. I missed the competition between the characters and I missed the slowburn romance. But on the whole, Ana of Caifornia is populated by a quirky cast of characters that are reminiscent of the classic characters.

And those quirky characters populate an equally quirky town. I loved the setting for Ana of California. The town of Hadley has all the charm of Prince Edward Island and Avonlea. Teran does a brilliant job of explaining what the small farming town of Northern California looks and acts like. I grew up in a small town and it captured that spirit, the fact that you know way too much about everyone else and while there is gossip you also come together when you need to. The town comes alive with it's bookstores and restaurants. She also perfectly captured life on a small and struggling farm. As Ana learns about farming and what is a weed and what is an herb. The town of Hadley is beautiful and interesting and the perfect modern setting for this version of Anne of Green Gables.

Ana of California was a fantastic and engaging story that takes a classic novel and brings it into the modern era. It's full of likeable  and complex characters, an interacting setting, and an engaging plot that will appeal to fans of the classic or those who are new to the story.

I give Ana of California by Andi Teran 9.5 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy. You will fall in love with Ana Cortez and her story just like you did with Anne Shirley. But even if you aren't an Anne of Green Gables fan, this is just a really good contemporary novel with an engaging plot that you will want to read in one sitting.

Have you read Ana of California? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

P.S. I will be celebrating the release of Ana of California on Tuesday with an interview with the author and a special surprise so come back then to check that out.


  1. Wow! Inspired by Anne of Green Gables??? Cool! I need to reread that book (and read all the other L.M. Montgomery books). But I hadn't heard of Ana of California, and I'm so glad you commented on my blog recently so that I could come and see your review! I'm definitely adding this to my TBR list on Goodreads! Great review!

    1. Yes, I'm so glad that you are adding it to your TBR. I loved it and I really want to share the love. It's got the same spirit as Anne of Green Gables but it's still a totally modern story. I hope you love it.

  2. OMG. I have to read this book! I love those animated gifs. Anne of Green Gables was my go to movie when I was a teenager. Love!