Ana of California by Andi Teran tells the tale of Ana Cortez, a young Latina living in Los Angeles, who when we meet her, is without family, friends or any prospects for her future beyond what she sees as impending doom. Ana has been tossed from foster home to group home, each time leaving behind her indelible mark of persistence and sass. We meet Ana as she is given a final chance to free herself from the emotionally and often physically abusive system that she keeps getting cycled back into. Ana is offered an internship to be a farmhand at Garber Farms where she will earn school credit while building her credentials to apply for emancipation.
Ana is the quintessential young female heroine: strong willed, intelligent, quirky and compassionate. Rye, Ana’s best friend, is an exemplar model of another feminine strength and human imperfection: she is into high-fashion, questions her sexuality, and often makes poor choices that are all too easily made by a teenager. Then you’ve got the Garber siblings, Ana’s foster parents who have their own twisted pasts and dark secrets. Each character holds a torch for something in their pasts which informs their present selves and which they feel like defines them in some unforgiveable and unmalleable way.
One of the most beautiful messages of the book is that your past will always be with you no matter how much you wish it away, and that’s not such a bad thing. Though insecurities are harbored and negative experiences are settled deep in the psyche of nearly every character, in the end each seems to shed a part of that past in accepting the past and revealing it to their loved ones.
Not at all a fairy tale model of happily ever after Ana of California holds a certain sense of hope for readers coming from all different backgrounds and experiences, and offers a glimpse into the possibility of living life uninhibited by one’s past.
Set for publication by Penguin Books on June 30, 2015, you can preorder a copy of Ana of California from your local bookstore.
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FTC Disclaimer: This book was given to me in return for a fair and honest review of the text.