A modern take on the classic coming-of-age novel, inspired by Anne of Green Gables
In the grand tradition of Anne of Green Gables, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and The Three Weissmanns of Westport, 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.
Comparing Teran's debut to its inspiration, L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, would do Teran's novel a disservice, as this contemporary take has a much quicker pace and a unique protagonist. To keep 15-year-old Los Angeles native Ana Cortez out of a group home, she is sent to Garber farms in Hadley, Calif., in a work-based living arrangement. Fans of Montgomery's series will appreciate nods to blackberry bushes, Ana's uncontrollable mouth, and the farm setting, but not recognizing these references will not hinder other readers' enjoyment. The novel skews to a younger audience, with tougher subjects (such as Ana's parents' ties to gangs and drugs) minimally explored. The gravitas of Ana's situation, and the very real possibility that Ana's placement at Garber Farms will not work out, is also kept at a surface level. Ana's relationship with the Garber siblings Abbie and Emmett inspires a few cute moments, but it develops too quickly. Ana's budding friendship with Rye Moon, on the other hand, is one of the most enjoyable elements to the story. Readers will appreciate the references to music, books, and art, and the way shared artistic interests can bring people together.