Fifteen year old Ana Cortez may be out of chances. Kicked out of a foster home again, her case worker gives her a choice: a group home or a farm internship in Northern California. Ana chooses the farm internship at the farm of brother and sister Abbie and Emmet Garber. But it's a big change for Ana from the streets of Los Angeles to the fruit trees of Garber Farm. Determined to make this work, Ana soon takes to life at the farm and build relationships with Abbie, field worker Manny and local alternative girl Rye Moon. Then, during the harvest festival, Ana inadvertedly gets into trouble. Will this be the end of her time at Garber Farm?
From this synopsis some of you may have guessed it; Ana of California is a modern-day retelling of the beloved children's classic Anne of Green Gables. In stead of the red-haired talkative young girl we here have a suspicious Lationo teenager with a troubled past. Ana of California is the debut novel of L.M. Montgomery fan Andi Teran and she has done a good job here!
Ana of California is a wonderful novel about finding a place to belong. It is a bit less lighthearted compared to Anne of Green Gables. Ana has had a difficult childhood and carries the scars from this. But also other characters have had problems in their past that still trouble them. Luckily there are enough humorous and carefree moments in the story that balance out the serious, especially Ana getting used to farm life. For some fans of Montgomery's original work, it might be a bit of a step to get over the more 'dark' side of this retelling, but personally I thought it was inventive and fitting. This is not a children's novel, but a Young Adult novel for the 21st century with struggles, but also with hope.
What is really liked about Ana of California was the setting. The small, specialized farm of the Garbers was unique and fun to read about. You might get food cravings from all the things Abbie and Emmet grow! Then there's the small town of Hadley with it's quirky residents and interesting shops which we get to know alongside Ana.
If I have to be honest, I did find there was a little bit too much going on in this relatively short novel. It was not only Ana's story, but Abbie, Emmet and Ana's friends Rye and Cole all had their own story as well. Because of this, the novel sometimes felt a bit rushed. For example, the friendship developing between Ana and Rye and Cole didn't get enough 'room' to really develop and the ending of the book definitely went too fast. But, who knows, there might be a sequel and we will get to spend more time with Ana and co!
Overall, I think Ana of California is a great debut effort. I would recommend it to fans of Anne of Green Gables and stories about growing up.
I received an ebook version of this novel from NetGalley and the publisher Penguin Books in exchange for an honest review
Penguin Books has been kind enough to offer a copy of Ana of California to one of you readers!
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