Green Angel: An insight into grief

Below is a quick literary analysis I did for Alice Hoffman’s Green Angel. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it!

Green Angel provides readers with an interesting perspective of grief and how it works. After the fire, every person, plant or animal goes through a type of metamorphosis. While it may be obvious that grief prompts change, what isn’t as obvious is how the grief expressed by the different characters in Green Angel are meant to highlight various aspects of Green’s grief and help her heal.

The fire that took the lives of Green’s family members also had an effect on the identities of each of her animal companions. “What’s a greyhound if it is unable to run, Sparrows if they are unable to fly and a hawk if it is unable to hunt?” Green asks. Much like the animals, Green’s identity is changed due to the fire.

The first of the animals is the greyhound, Ghost, with singed feet. While the fire had no effect on Green’s feet, she weighs herself down by wearing her father’s heavy boots. As the seasons change and as both Green and Ghost heal, Green begins to realize just how heavy her father’s boots are and removes in an attempt to keep up with Ghost on a walk. One could argue that as Green begins to heal the pain, or heaviness, begins to lessen.

While Ghost’s burnt paws mirror Green’s father’s heavy boots, the sparrows singed feathers parallel Green’s singed hair. The hair that was like her mother’s. It is important to note that the sparrows could also represent Green’s relationship with her mother. Initially, Green provides the sparrows with warmth and food. In turn, the sparrows exceed her expectations by quickly learning how to fly and making her a fishing net.

If Ghost is to Green’s father and the sparrows are to Green’s mother, then surely the hawk is supposed to represent Aurora who was “as beautiful as she was wild”. In the fire, the hawk’s beak was burned and Aurora is the only family member who speaks to Green in her dreams. Like the other animals, as the hawk heals, Aurora begins to help Green cry and take the final steps towards healing.

But what of the human characters: Heather, the Old Woman, and Diamond? What role do they play in helping Green heal, if any? Heather is essentially a foil to Green’s character. As Green heals and grows, Heather’s life becomes more chaotic and she wilts. (One should also note the symbolism within their names; Green equals growth and prosperity whereas deriving hearth from Heather isn’t too far of a stretch). The old woman helps Green realize that there are periods in life that are drastically different from one another and one might look like a completely different person after each one. Finally, Diamond, the boy who arrives “with a sheaf of white paper, burned at the edges.”  Green saw her future as something she could control. After the fire, she understandably felt a loss of control.  Diamond is just one of the many people who shows her that her future is still her own.

So what did everyone think? I’d love to hear about what you thought of Alice Hoffman’s Green Angel in the comments below. Thanks and until next time, which I promise will be sooner than you think!

-Jq

Green Angel: Love, Loss and Healing

I want to preface this review by thanking anyone and everyone involved with Scholastic Book fairs. That’s right, I’m reviewing a book I first read in elementary school and it was just as enjoyable my third/fourth time reading it as it was my first. Perhaps even more so now that everything clicked.

Alice Hoffman’s Green Angel is a story about a young girl named Green navigating through her grief and her world after losing her family in a fire in a nearby city. In her sorrow, she becomes Ash, a girl with spikes in her boots and a scarf of thorns.

This book was a pleasant read. Hopefully this isn’t strange to say, but Green’s grief was beautifully written and interesting to see. There were moments that certainly pulled at my heartstrings, especially Green’s relationship with her sister.

Honestly though one of my favorite things about this book was the fairy tale like quality it had which had much to do with its setting. Despite reading it several times over, I wasn’t able to tell what time period it was taking place but I didn’t mind one bit. If anything, it added to the magic of the setting.

In terms of representation, this book, while not amazing, it is pretty good. There are women looking out for and learning from other women. From the first time I read this book, I imagined Green as brown. Heather Jones, one of Green’s former classmates, is coded as Black but she, unfortunately, doesn’t make it to the end of the book. Also, Green’s blindness, if taken literally, is cured at the end of the book.

Rating: 7* out of 10 stars

What did you think about Hoffman’s Green Angel? Do you feel like my review was spot on or did I miss some things? Feel free to tell me in the comments below!

The Selection: A Writer’s Thoughts

It has been said time and time again: to be a great writer, one must first be a great reader. If that’s the case each and every book we read should not only entertain but it should also be a learning experience. That said, what exactly could we learn from reading The Selection?

Well, one issue I had with The Selection was characterization. The Selection has a huge cast, with a whopping 55 named characters*. While it wasn’t hard to keep track of who was who, I kind of wondered what was the point of having all of these characters? Was it really necessary to include America’s aide who helped her to the airport for that one chapter? Were Aspen’s twin sisters even necessary? His little brother was just used as a tool to show how terrible Illea was and to explain why Aspen worked so hard.

Perhaps if some of these roles were eliminated and/or combined, there would be more time to develop some of the other girls in the selection or focus more on world building. I get that at its core this series is America and Maxon’s love story, however, I think it would have been a lot more interesting if we had a sense of competition. I’m not saying that I would have wanted each and every girl to be fleshed out, especially since they’re going to be written out anyway, but there are certainly ways to quickly inject personality and life into characters.

If you’re a writer who has a project with a huge cast of characters, I’d definitely recommend giving this a read. Just as I have certain things that I would change in this book, I’m sure you do as well.

*I tried to be as accurate as possible with all the named characters but I am worried I missed a few. Also, characters who had titles instead of names, like The Queen of Swendway, were included in my count.

The Selection: Lights, Camera, Romance

I first read Kiera Cass’ The Selection when I was in high school. The cover was gorgeous and the reviews mentioned that it was a cross between The Bachelor and The Hunger Games. Me, a fan of at least one of those things at the time, decided to give it a chance and found it enjoyable.

Years later, I read it again and while it was still interesting I do have a few issues. Long story short, this story is a love roller coaster; not because it had it’s ups and downs but because it’s impossible to describe what sort of love shape* is taking place here.

Let’s just get into it. Whenever the kingdom of Illea (America after two more world wars…jeez ) has a prince who is of marrying age, a Selection, or a televised competition in which 35 women “fight” for his hand, takes place. America Singer (the main character, not the country) enters and as the title and cover suggest, she becomes part of The Selection. Now America has to survive rebel attacks, princess lessons, the other girls, and heartbreak.

An interesting read, yes, but not interesting enough to make me rush to get the second book.

There was a lot going on, which I believe weakened the plot. Here we have this world, our world, however many years in the future, where people are arbitrarily placed into different castes. People are going hungry but everyone is just fine with the Monarchs of a country spending money to house young women for an indefinite amount of time just so the Prince can find a wife. Not to mention the frequent rebel attacks, complete lack of recorded history and the fact that soldiers are given body-altering drugs.

I get that this book is vaguely dystopian but all of these issues were raised and never went anywhere. Yes, the hunger issue was addressed but we, as readers, have yet to see its effect.

I do wonder how it would have changed the book if one of the subplots was removed in exchange for more characterization of some of the selected girls. The one selected girl America became friends with had some decent characterization but other than that it was disappointing to be fed the same beautiful but mean Queen B character.

Also the complete lack of racial diversity was glaringly obvious as the author tried to describe at least fifteen different girls. Aside from America the girls were either blonde or brunette. I do have my fingers crossed that one girl isn’t straight but we’ll have to see. Another young woman canonically has PTSD**. Other than that the characters were all coded as white, straight, neurotypical and able-bodied.

For the sake of completion, I’m probably going to read a few of the other books in this series but there’s nothing in this book that grabbed my attention. Hopefully, the next installments in this series will be more satisfying than this one.

Rating: 5 stars out of 10
Note: I was very tempted to give this book a 4 because of the names but I’m trying to be fair.
*Surprise! It’s a love triangle but for the sake of suspense we’ll just say that it can go any which way.
**It wasn’t explicitly stated in text but she did display a couple of the symptoms

Hey, Hi, Hello all!

And welcome to The Little Black Book Worm. My name is Jq and I am both an avid reader and writer. Like most writers, I spend a lot of my time not writing and feeling guilty about it. That said, this blog is either an attempt to alleviate that guilt, just another way for me to distract myself or a strange mix of both. In any case, I’m sure it’ll be fun.

Why?

Well one of my favorite things to do is read and write young adult literature and this blog is going to help with both. I plan to read, review and analyze any YA novel I can get my hands on. I’ll be taking a close at things like setting, plot, character development and everything else that . I’ll also be reading these books through a feminist lens just to add some more fun to the mix.

So sit back, brew and or pour your drink of choice and let’s get reading shall we?