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In pop culture, YADA-YADA usually means "blah, blah, blah" or "more of the same." For this blog, YADA-YADA is an acronym meaning "Young Adult Discussions About Young Adult-Designed Art." Check out my summaries and reviews of teen media. Chime in and let me know what you think!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blog No. 19--Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

GENRE: Teen Fiction--Fantasy

Title: Green Angel
Author: Alice Hoffman

Bibliographic Information:
Paperback 116 pages
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. October 2003
ISBN-10: 0439658789
ISBN-13: 9780439658782
Reading Level: Grade 6 and up
Reading Age: Age 12 and up


Reader’s Annotation:
After losing her family in a mysterious fire that wipes out the whole city, fifteen-year-old Green is the sole survivor, haunted by memories and sadness. Before she was a gardener, now she retreats and changes her name to Ash, tattooing herself with dark ink to punish herself for surviving, until her innate humanity makes her come to life again in a mysterious way.

Plot Summary:
Fifteen-year-old Green, who finds delight tending the immense garden on her family’s land, is not as beautiful or happy as her sister Find out all about yourself—about your love, health, career and destiny--simply by lo, Aurora, who seems to dance on from the dawn through the night. When their parents and Aurora go into the city to sell their vegetables, a cataclysmic fire occurs—an explosion (much like a bombing) occurs, leveling the city and killing everyone who lives or worked there. Left alone to survive in anyplace where nothing will grown anymore, food is scarce and everything living seems dead, Green changes her name to Ash and begins covering herself with homemade tatooes o reminder her of all she has lost. Eventually, she finds that there are a few survivors, including an old woman, a girl named Heather who has taken to drinking and dancing and running with a pack of wild teens, and finally dogs named Onion and Ghost and a young mane named Diamond, who redeem her soul. A tale of spirits and mystery, Green Angel leaves readers wondering what really happened, but with the comfort of knowing that survival and spirit can endure among the most harsh conditions.’

Critical Evaluation:
In a short 166 pages, Alice Hoffman manages to weave a spellbinding tale of hope in a world that seems to have lost everything—nature, spirit, and humanity. Green, the story’s heroine, despite tattooing every possible square inch of her body to minimize the pain of being left behind, finds redemption of sorts when she begins to reach out to other survivors who are like herself. While this book seemed more image-oriented than narrative, it nonetheless strikes a chord in readers about the will to survive against all odds. However, it seems the book could have been fleshed out a bit more. Many details are missing that could have made this great. It is too short, and too empty in parts, but for some reason I still enjoyed the book.

Reading Level/Interest Age:
This is a fast, easy-to-read book for any teen over twelve. However, the holes inherent in the story may frustrate some of the younger readers, and because of that, the book actually is more accessible as a strict YA novel. The implied relationship between Green and Diamond suggest that this book may be for slightly older YAs after all.

About the Author:
Alice Hoffman (b. 3-16-52) grew up on Long Island, graduating from high school in 1969. She graduated from Adelphi University, from which she received a BA, and then received a Mirrellees Fellowship to the Stanford University Creative Writing Center, receiving an MA in Creative Writing. She wrote her first novel, Property Of, when she was 21. Since then she has published seventeen more novels: two books of short fiction and eight books for children and young adults. Here on Earth, once of her novels, was an Oprah Book Club choice. She also wrote, Practical Magic, which eventually became a film starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. The sequel to Green Angel, called Green Witch, is a teen novel recently published in March 2010. Hoffman teaches at Brandeis University.

Booktalking Ideas:
Life is great—until your parents and your beloved sister go to the city without you to sell the fruits of your garden, and a mysterious explosion and fire endues, killing nearly everyone who went downtown. This is Green’s story, and upon feeling her loss, she changes her name to Ash…and tries to survive in a now-darkened world.

Challenge Issues:

Why I chose this book:
This was sitting on my personal bookshelf for years. I hadn’t read it, so I decided to finally pick it up. I’m glad I did. While it cannot compare to the sophistication of many of the other books, this one has a sweetness about it that seems to be largely missing from nearly all of the YA novels I have read.

Cover art courtesy of: http://www.alicehoffman.com/hoffman-green-angel.htm

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