Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ana of California

*** Giveaway - ENTER to WIN ***

Enter to win a copy of Ana of California
A grown-up reimagining of L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables

Leave a comment (click on comments and type away) below to enter.
Please include a way to contact you if you are the winner.

Thank you to Penguin Random House for generously providing a copy of the book.

Some fine print...
Winner will be selected at random.
Giveaway open today until Sunday July 26 at midnight (EST).
Because of publishing rights, giveaway is open to US residents only.
Winner's name and address will be shared with publisher for mailing the book.
Title:  Ana of California
Author:  Andi Teran
Publication Information:  Penguin Group. 2015. 368 pages.
ISBN:  0143126490 / 978-0143126492

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "She was out of beginnings, this she knew."

Favorite Quote:  "We live with the scars though, don't we? ... But they show we lived in the moment and have survived past it."

"A modern retelling of Anne of Green Gables." I was enticed by that description. I read the entire L. M. Montgomery series as a child and then again as an adult. It's one of the childhood series that is still on my shelf today. The spunky Anne Shirley. The beautiful Prince Edward Island setting. The group of eccentric small town characters. The innocence of childhood despite the hardships suffered. I love the original L. M. Montgomery book!

As excited as I was to read this book, I was also apprehensive. This retelling attempts to fill some mighty big shoes. I was not sure if I was prepared to be delighted once again or disappointed. Then, I finally realized that it is not a fair comparison. Anne of Green Gables is the story of a child written for children. Ana of California is not; this book is more for the young adult and adult audience. The themes are more adult, and the story is darker. Reading it in constant comparison to the original is not fair. No way can Ana capture the sweet charm of Anne Shirley.

I stopped comparing and settled in to enjoy what is a wonderful coming of age story all on its own. Although I find myself smiling over the memories triggered by some of the similarities between the books, you don't have to be familiar with the original to enjoy this story. Ana is an engaging character, and this story well-told.

Ana's life seems to be defined by the following statement: "Some things are out of our control, mija, especially where we came from and what we left behind. But we can choose how we react and how we move forward." Born into the streets of East Los Angeles, Ana loses her parents and grandmother to the violence of those streets. She bounces around from foster home to foster home, never finding a permanent home or a family to call her own. She comes to the Garber farm as a last chance. In brother and sister Emmett and Abbie Garber, Ana hopes to find a family or at least a final foster home before her emancipation from the foster care system.

With Ana comes all the emotions and fears of her childhood. Will she find a home? Will any mistake send Ana packing back to Los Angeles? Can she risk friendship? Can she risk believing that this may be home? Her fears and insecurity come through in her art and in her interactions with all those around her. All these things have me believing in, cheering for, and wanting to protect Ana.

In this small farm town community in Northern California, Ana finds a host of characters, each with their story. Emmett and the loss of his wife. Abbie and the secrets of her rebellious past. Manny and the other migrant farm workers. Cole Brennan, the Brennan family and their relationship with the Garbers. Rye and the prejudice she faces. Will and his dream for his restaurant.

These many stories form the undercurrent to Ana's story. None of them develop enough to compete with the main story, but they do clearly convey a point. Everyone - including Ana - has a past and a story. Family - the one we are born with or the one we make - is about all the stories together and is about loving each other sometimes in spite of those stories.

While Anne of Green Gables will always have a place on my shelf as a childhood favorite, Ana of California also gets a place on my shelf, for an endearing main character and an engaging story.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.


  1. I was another one who was enchanted by Anne of Green Gables and I read it many times. I actually thought recently of rereading it because I no longer remember all the details. Ana of California sounds so iengaging, definitely a book I would enjoy. Your positive review counts for a lot with me.

    1. Me too Helene. After reading this book, I am even more inclined to reread Anne of Green Gables just to recapture that memory of childhood!

  2. Memories From Books is my "Zagat" for good reads.

    1. Thank you for your lovely compliment Soraya! It means a lot to me.