Green Angel

Green Angel

4.2 282
by Alice Hoffman

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Left on her own when her family dies in a terrible disaster, fifteen-year-old Green is haunted by loss and by the past. Struggling to survive physically and emotionally in a place where nothing seems to grow and ashes are everywhere, Green retreats into the ruined realm of her garden. But in destroying her feelings, she also begins to destroy herself, erasing the girl… See more details below


Left on her own when her family dies in a terrible disaster, fifteen-year-old Green is haunted by loss and by the past. Struggling to survive physically and emotionally in a place where nothing seems to grow and ashes are everywhere, Green retreats into the ruined realm of her garden. But in destroying her feelings, she also begins to destroy herself, erasing the girl she'd once been as she inks darkness into her skin. It is only through a series of mysterious encounters that Green can relearn the lessons of love and begin to heal enough to tell her story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A shy 15-year-old girl is left behind one day when her family goes into the city and perishes in a cataclysmic fire. In a boxed review, PW described the novel as "a post-apocalyptic fairy tale leavened with hope." Ages 11-up. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Hoffman offers young adult readers a chance to enjoy her magical realism writing style in this novel. Fifteen-year-old Green lives a bucolic life in the country with her father, mother, and younger sister, Aurora. With her mother, Green grows the produce that is sold in the city for the family's livelihood. Green's life is permanently altered when the city is destroyed by fire on market day, killing her family. Devastated by loss, Green must learn to survive both physically and emotionally. This book is divided into five parts or chapters titled Heart, Soul, Treasure, Rain, and Sister, which mirror Green's evolution from a grief-stricken, hopeless survivor to a resilient, independent young woman. Each section begins with a black-and-white illustration evocative of Green's experiences. Her first-person narration lends authenticity and immediacy to the story, enabling readers to empathize with her plight. Hoffman's simple, lyrical prose creates a metaphor for the transition from adolescence to adulthood, from dependence to autonomy. Green's haunting transformation from a depressed teen who tattoos herself with black ink to a strong young woman who helps others survive is sure to strike a chord with teen readers. Sparse, concise, and luminous, the author's words effectively draw the reader into both Green's world and her experiences. This beautifully written tale not only is an excellent young adult read, but also could be used in English classes exploring metaphor, symbolism, and parables. Illus. VOYA Codes: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, definedas grades 10 to 12). 2003, Scholastic, 128p,
— Rachelle Bilz
Children's Literature
Green, a girl who is left behind when a terrible disaster takes the lives of her mother, father, and sister, is struggling to survive on her own. Green, considered the most needed by everyone, feels very compassionate about the earth, gardening, and being in the woods. She provided the family with information on cures for common diseases, harvesting times, and crops. The family sold the crops to the market as a source of money. Now, the town in which Green has grown up has been burned, leaving nothing but a few people who survived and a few places of business. Green deals with her emotions and loneliness by drawing on her body with black ink pictures of bats, ravens, and roses. Green becomes friends with a "ghostly" dog, a boy who can't speak, a hawk who has a burnt beak, and a neighbor from whom she used to steal fruit. Green helps each one in a special way, either by giving them food or providing them a place to stay. Each character slowly helps Green remember who she is and places happiness back in her life. All of these characters help Green cope with her emotions toward the loss of her family, along with the love and compassion she gave to them, and allow her finally to release these feelings and tell her own story. 2003, Scholastic Press, Ages 12 up.
— Kristen Jackson
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, January 2003: Hoffman follows up her other colorfully titled novels for YAs (Aquamarine, Indigo) with this poetic fairytale about a 15-year-old girl nicknamed Green, because she has a talent for gardening. One day her parents and younger sister head out to the nearby city to sell the vegetables they grow, but Green stays home to tend the garden. A terrible catastrophe strikes the city that day, a fire so devastating that the embers fly all the way to Green's home and get in her eyes, nearly blinding her. Grief-stricken by the loss of her family, Green puts thorns on her clothes and nails on her boots, and covers her skin with tattoos of black vines and black roses, renaming herself "Ash." She scrounges desolately in the woods for any food she can find, and it isn't until she takes in a ghostly white greyhound that her heart starts to open up again to others. She helps out a neighbor and a former classmate, adopts some sparrows and a hawk, and welcomes a mute, fire-damaged boy to come stay in her house. She finally accepts help from others—the sparrows weave her a fishing net from strands of her hair, for example—and gradually her heart starts to heal and her black tattoos begin to turn green. She is Green once again, with a new understanding of loving and letting go, realizing that "There was the world waiting outside, aching and ruined, but beautiful all the same." This parable has the pull and charm of myth, and the clear reference to the events of 9/11 give it an extra poignancy. Fairytale and fantasy fans will love this. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high schoolstudents. 2003, Scholastic, 116p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-When her world disappears in a maelstrom of fire and ash, 15-year-old Green struggles to survive. Through her encounters with others she slowly begins to heal and create a new life. A beautifully written, allegorical story. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In oblique response to the events of 9/11, Hoffman (Indigo, 2002, etc.) crafts this otherworldly tale of an orphan giving and receiving help in the wake of a massive disaster. Describing herself as a "moody, dark weed," with an affinity for growing things, Green covers herself in darkness and thorns after watching a huge fire in the nearby town rob her of parents, and of her wild, golden little sister. Nearly blinded by falling cinders, she changes her name to Ash, cuts her hair, sews rose thorns onto her clothing, and tattoos herself all over with inky vines, briars, ravens, and bats. At first leaving her house only to find food or add stones to the cairns she's building for her family, she gradually finds herself caring for injured animals, an aged neighbor, and another orphan, a burned, silent young painter she dubs Diamond. Ultimately, time's a healer, as tears wash the ashes from her eyes, her dreams lighten, and her tattoos green up just as her devastated garden does. A suggestion that the fire was set by people who "had been living among us, pretending to be good neighbors," adds an additional, and thought provoking connection to historical events-but even readers who don't make that connection on their own will be moved by the powerful imagery in Green's spare, haunting narrative. Hoffman's other "crossover" novels have been criticized as heavy-handed; here she shows a more delicate touch. (Fiction. 11-13)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.70(w) x 8.48(h) x 0.60(d)
910L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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