After a disaster destroys the city she loves and kills her family, fifteen-year-old Green is left with nothing; the life she once had turned to ashes just like the ashes covering her once lush garden.
Shocked by the loss and destruction, Green turns inward. Her clothes become armor. She closes her eyes against the loss and the rebuilding taking place all around her. She closes her heart to love or friendship.
But, little by little, love and friendship make their way into her life. As she struggles to survive Green finds unlikely friends, love, and redemption in Green Angel (2003) by Alice Hoffman.
Hoffman is one of those interesting authors who has written books for every conceivable audience (and did so before anyone was writing about kid lawyers if you know what I mean). Several of her books have also been turned into movies, including Practical Magic--one of my most favorite films.
Despite all that, this is the first book I have actually read by Alice Hoffman and it's so unusual that I have no idea if it's indicative of her work or not.*
First things first, Green Angel is a tiny book. Weighing it at less than 130 pages, there are some novellas that are longer than this book. For that reason, the normal narrative rules don't really apply.
Hoffman's writing is sparse (obviously) and melodic. With dialog presented in italics and the plot broken into parts instead of chapters, Green Angel reads more like an extended prose poem than a traditional narrative. Given that caveat, it is a good story.
Hoffman blends elements of poetry and traditional fairy tale tropes like kindly animals and wise old women to create a story about survival and reconstruction in the face of unthinkable tragedy. Sometimes gritty, sometimes florid Green Angel is a brief story that will stay with readers long after the story ends.
Green's story continues in Green Witch.
Possible Pairings: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, The Window by Jeanette Ingold, Madapple by Cristina Meldrum, Evermore by Alyson Noël, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
*I saw her at a reading/signing for Green Witch (the sequel to this book) and I didn't know much about her or her books. But I fell in love with the beautiful cover and decided I had to read it. So of course I had to read its predecessor too.