Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ana of California gives us a modern heroine in the grand Green Gables tradition

Andi Teran's debut novel, Ana of California, is intended to be a new spin on Lucy Maud Montgomery's iconic tale of feisty orphan Anne Shirley of Green Gables, a book and series that I know about yet have never read.

However, that didn't stop me from being fully engaged with her modern day incarnation. Ana Cortez has been in numerous foster homes,following the death of her parents and her grandmother, and has once again been kicked out of a home for all the wrong reasons.

To keep her out of a group home, her social worker suggests that Ana sign up for a trial period as a farm worker in the small town of Hadley. If she does get to stay beyond that initial try-out and do well enough there, Ana may be able to qualify for self emancipation as soon as she turns sixteen(which is not that far off). Despite being a city girl, Ana is more than willing to give a whole new situation like this a fair shot:

While Ana struggles to keep her outspoken nature in check, she can't help but connect to some of the new people in her life at Garber Farms, run by brother and sister Abbie and Emmett.

Despite Emmett's reluctance to open to anyone,let alone Ana, they do have something in common; an appreciation of music. Ana is able to both enjoy Neil Young along with Emmet and a band like The Hex, an all female rock group, with local girl Rye Moon, who is very much an outsider like Ana but in her own way.

Ana does her best at work and then later school yet a myriad of misunderstandings crop up at every other turn. One of those misunderstandings involves Cole, a guy near her age with a troubled past and complicated present. Despite their romantic reluctance, music is again another bond that draws them together:

Part of Ana's problem is that she doesn't know all of the back stories behind Cole's troubles as well as how they tie into Emmet's wife leaving him. At the same time, most of the others around her don't know all of the traumas of Ana's past, some of which threaten to haunt her future.

Nevertheless, Ana's innate generous spirit and artistic talents do open a number of doors to opportunity for her. The true question is, will she feel confident enough in her choices to find the ones right for her?

This book has an easy open charm to it, making you invest in Ana's world right off the bat. One of it's strengths is that the character canvas is spread wide enough to include most of the town of Hadley's residents, such as Will, the new restaurant owner who takes an interest in Abbie's cooking and Ms. Minerva Shaw, the owner of "Monarch Mansion" who gets off on the wrong foot with Ana rather quickly. The small town feel of Hadley is as just as much of a character as Ana or any of the other folks she encounters on this literary journey:

 The whole atmosphere that author Andi Teran creates here combines a snappy modern retelling with classic highlights  that blend harmoniously together in a scrumptious story telling soup that nourishes your soul.

The beauty of a new take on a familiar tale like is the creativity which invites both newcomers and diehard fans into the fold. I for one am definitely inspired to check out the original series as well as hope that this will not be the last we see of Ana Cortez and company.

Ana of California is available in paperback and will be released on June 30, in plenty of time to add to your growing beach bag of reading goodness.  I also hope that this version of Anne Shirley becomes a wonderful movie or TV adaptation, as such a lively young woman has a timeless appeal to readers of more than one generation:

No comments: