Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Book Review: 'Green Angel" by Alice Hoffman

✰✰✰✰ Fifteen-year-old Green is a quiet and shy teen. When Green’s family goes into the city to sell their goods, Green is left behind to tend the gardens.  Unhappy at the prospect of being left behind, Green doesn’t even bother to say goodbye to them. Little does she know it’s a decision that will soon haunt her.

When the unthinkable happens and the city is destroyed along with all the people in it, Green is left alone to deal her grief and her guilt. In a way, a little part of Green died the day her family died. With only her sister’s dog, Onion, for company, Green doesn’t even bother to heal her damaged eyes. She retreats into a protective shell by wearing black clothes, cutting off her long hair, and putting nails in her boots.  She even covers her body with black tattoos. Thus, Green loses herself for a while and becomes Ash, a girl who doesn’t care.

Partially blinded and unrecognizable as Ash, she must learn survival skills. Then something amazing happens, the girl who refused to heal herself begins to heal others. There's a hawk, baby birds, a greyhound, and more; one by one they come to Ash for help. As she begins to take care of others, Ash learns how to care about herself and becomes Green once again. 

The Bottom Line: This very brief tale of loss and love is haunting and has a dreamlike quality. Alice Hoffman’s writing is very descriptive and appeals to the senses; it is full of symbolism and imagery. Hoffman manages to pack lots of emotion into this slim little book. Told from the viewpoint of fifteen year old Green, this story of survival uses little dialogue. 

Teens who have suffered a loss will relate to Green. Hoffman expertly guides the reader through the grieving process by following Green’s journey from loss and despair to anger, acceptance, and finally hope. Green discovers that by losing herself, she finally finds herself.

Highly recommended reading for teens. The contemporary setting evoked images of 9/11 making this a possible pick for a YA book club. (You can find discussion questions here.) Green Angel is sad and enchanting all at the same time.

Note: I received this as a gift from the SantaThing program at LibraryThing. It’s different from the types of books I usually choose for myself, which is why I love the program.

Details: Green Angel by Alice Hoffman. Paperback published by Scholastic Inc. in 2010. 144 p. ISBN: 978-0-545-20411-8

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