July 16, 2015

Review: Ana of California by Andi Teran (+ Giveaway!)

Ana of California by Andi Teran
Publication date: June 30, 2015
Publisher: Penguin Books
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received from publisher via Netgalley (Thanks!)
Summary: In the grand tradition of Anne of Green Gables, 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 (greads.com)

The good
When I heard about a modern retelling of Anne of Green Gables, I knew I had to read it. Anne is one of my favorite books (I have the 15 copies to prove it!) so my expectations were pretty high. Ana of California is more inspired by Anne than it is a direct retelling and I appreciated where the author chose to go in her own direction and where she made elements from the classic her own.

Ana Cortes has bounced from foster home to foster home ever since she tragically lost her family. After this final one kicks her out, she has two options. Either go to a group home or go to a farm trainee program in North California until she can emancipate in a few months. She chooses the latter despite her nonexistent farming experience and it's here that she meets the two siblings taking her in, Emmett and Abbie Garber. Emmett doesn't quite welcome her with open arms but Abbie is quick to make Ana feel at ease (notice the role reversal?). Ana doesn't know what to expect but she definitely didn't consider the possibility to finding family, friends and a place to call home.

Ana is easily my favorite part of the book and I rooted for her immediately from the first page. Everything in Northern California is brand new to her. The setting (which I loved!), having people genuinely watch out for her, working on a farm and learning everything about fruits and vegetables, making a real friend for the first time and even meeting a guy. I enjoyed watching her navigate through each different relationship she started to form. Every person she let in just brought her one step closer to making this her home. And deep down, you know that's what she's looking for even with emancipation on the horizon. Like the classic this book draws inspiration from, the heart of it is Ana and the people she considers her home. Stories like that will never get old for me.

(Some) Reservations
If you're a super fan of Anne of Green Gables, I think you have to approach this book with the mindset that it's inspired by it and not a retelling. No book will ever be another Anne so I personally had to put that aside to appreciate this book for what it is and how the author chose to tell this story. She absolutely makes it her own but my one reservation is that I wish it had been a little longer because there was certain relationships and characters I wanted to learn more about.

Do I recommend?
I do. It's a super fast read and again, if you're an Anne fan it's worth checking out this twist on a childhood classic.

>> GIVEAWAY << 

The publisher has offered a copy of Ana of California to giveaway! It's US only and will run from today until July 30th. I'll contact the winner and the publisher will send you the book. Good luck!

5 comments:

  1. This looks like an adorable read! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  2. You've convinced me to read this, adding to my TBR pile!

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  3. Oh, Ana of California! The one thing that really stood out to me about this book was the setting. I loved the Northern California / small town / farm combination; Teran really brought that to life for me. The story was really readable too, which I definitely appreciated!

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  4. I always like seeing retellings or what I call remixes of classic novels. I have Very Strong Opinions about Anne but I'm not sure I'm a superfan. Still debating if I'll pick this up. Now if it was a Emily of New Moon riff, then it would already be in my hands.

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  5. This book was a bit of a struggle for me! I loved the setting and was rooting for Ana, but I felt like the characters just weren't fleshed out enough. And some of the ties to AoGG were cute and others were just odd. Like I laughed at how she updated the raspberry cordial incident, but the love interest was so inferior to Gilbert in every way. Oh well. THERE'S ONLY ONE GILBERT BLYTHE.

    In a way, I think this might have been stronger if it hadn't been tied to Anne. Maybe? I think I expected more from it because of the retelling aspect. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't quite what I hoped for either!

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