One of my favorite books is Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I read it as a child, and then again when I was in library school taking “History of Children’s Literature.” It was an even better read as an adult, or at least it felt that way to me. So when I heard about this modern retelling, I must admit I was skeptical. But I braved it out and started Ana…and was immediately hooked. I loved how Teran brought this story into the 21st century and kept the charm and spunk of the original.
If you haven’t read the Montgomery book, I urge you to do so. I recently watched the movie and was startled to see that the actress playing Anne was named Anne Shirley, the same name as the character. That caused me to do some digging and apparently she was moved enough by the story (or the studio) to legally change her name to that of this most beloved character. The movie was okay but I would recommend the book over it any day.
Back to Ana…it is absolutely not necessary to have read Anne to enjoy this book. Ana is a 15 year old Mexican American, and a product of the foster care system. Eventually she gets thrown out of one too many homes and is offered a last chance; to work as an intern on a farm further up the California coast. If she can manage to hang on until she turns 16, she will be old enough to become emancipated.
Garber Farm is run by brother and sister Abbie and Emmett. Emmett is all in favor of an intern, but he’s expecting a boy and grudgingly decides to give Ana a one month trial period. Abbie is delighted to have a girl around the house, and Ana quickly finds that she enjoys life on the farm. Things get a little more difficult when school starts and there is boy trouble, friends and drug trouble, and other road blocks to happiness thrown in her path. But slowly she starts making a difference in the lives of those around her.
For fans of Anne, all I can say is some of the most memorable scenes are updated here. Ana has a run in with a neighbor, her best friend’s accidental drunkenness is now a psilocybin mushroom trip, there is a major hair mishap, and so forth. Every one of these scenes felt like finding a little nugget of happiness.
Ana is a charmer and this is a warm, wonderful coming of age story that should appeal to adults and young adults too. Great for book discussions – check out the Reading Group Guide
7/15 Stacy Alesi
ANA OF CALIFORNIA by Andi Teran. Penguin Books (June 30, 2015). ISBN 978-0143126492. 368p.