Tuesday, October 20, 2009

REVIEW: Green Angel

Hoffman, A. (2003) Green Angel
116 pages -- 0439443849

Thirty Second Summary: After losing her family in a disastrous attack, fifteen-year-old Green lives moment to moment with no thoughts of the future. With the help of an elderly neighbor, a ghost dog, and a mute young man, she begins to recover from the loss, and regain her sense of identity.

I cannot even get into talking about this book until I mention how much I love the cover. Love. The Cover. On the front side, a girl with long black hair is reading a book as birds swoop around her and rose bushes twine up from the ground to wrap around her legs. She’s all earth and wildness and beauty. Flip the book over, and you see the back side of another girl, hair shorn, bat wings tattooed on her neck and roses on her legs, in oversized boots studded with nails and a leather jacket stuck full of rose thorns – a mix of anger and hardness with some hopelessness thrown in, as she stands watching the last glimmers of a setting sun (or a fire?) far off in the distance.

Ooh. Don’t you just heart it when a book cover matches the descriptions of the characters? Shel, I know you do. It fills me all full of joy and unicorn giggles.

But anyway!

Green Angel is less a novel than it is a lush, novel-length poem (although not too lengthy, clocking in at just 116 thin, thin pages). The plot in and of itself honestly isn’t that magnificent, but Hoffman’s words twine around you and sweep you away on a river of prose. Watching Green become Ash become Green again is like watching the rebirth of her world.

Although the actual disaster isn’t given as much attention as Green’s journey from broken girl to growing woman, we are given enough information to know that it was a terrorist attack that destroyed the city her parents were visiting. “Some of them had been living among us, pretending to be good neighbors. Their wives had shopped in our markets. Their children had gone to our schools, eaten our bread, played in our streets” (96). There’s a very good reason for Green to hate these people, but there’s another reason she can’t hate all of them. I can’t tell you why, obviously. It’s a secret.

Also, are you kidding me? It’s got “writing a book” as a metaphor for life. I’m a reader, kids. I eat this stuff up like candy.

So go for it. Take an hour or two (I took thirty minutes, which gives you an idea of how fast this sucker reads) and get your poetic post-apocalyptic bildungsroman groove on.

Quotes of Note:

My little sister, Aurora, was as wild as she was beautiful. Aurora could climb a tree in the blink of an eye. She could disappear into the woods like moonlight. She could dance for hours and never tire. (P. 6)

I understood wanting to forget. Things that made you remember cut like pieces of glass. A song, a memory, a blade of grass, a white dress, a dream, all of it as painful as the deepest wound. (p. 50)

I etched half a rose, half a wing, half a thorn, half a leaf. When I was done, Diamond took off his black hood so I could see what the fire had done to him. Then I understood why pain meant nothing to him anymore. I could see why half was enough for him. (P. 100)

At night I dreamed of my sister, and she knew me as well as I knew myself. I dreamed of vines and grass, apples and emeralds, rain and white night-flowers that bloomed with green centers. I dreamed of everything I’d lost and all that I’d found and everything in between. (P. 111)

Tasty Rating: !!!!

If you thought this was delicious, try:
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Keep the poetry-prose theme going, and check out this story of a girl growing up in the dust of Oklahoma during the Great Depression.

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