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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on April 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Although intended for the YA market, this book will appeal to anyone who is a fan of lovely, poetic writing infused with magic.
Most of Hoffman's adult novels contain a certain amount of magical realism, and in "Green Angel", she tells a story that is totally magical. Maybe she felt she could let go for the YA audience more so than for adults. Well, I am one adult who will tell you that I am glad to have read this. I intend to pass it along to my 12 year old niece and then discuss it with her.
I actually read this book twice: the first time, I raced through it, and the second time, I took my time, reveling in the beautiful prose and making notes.
There were certain phrases I wanted to remember...like the people at the "forgetting shack" who did not know how to face the darkness of their lives. This made me think of the parallels in our world. Many of the characters in the book were "trapped in the foggy ground between forgetting and living". Or this: "She was so busy forgetting, she couldn't take a single step into the future."
This is a story so full of meaning and symbolism, so simple yet so complex, that I am sure one could get something new out of it each time it is read.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Green is fifteen. Her father is strong and honest. Her mother collects blue jay feathers, preferring them to pearls. Her little sister, Aurora, is as wild as she is beautiful. Then one day her father and mother and sister go into the city to sell vegetables, leaving Green at home to take care of the gardens. While they are there, a terrible disaster destroys the city. Ashes rain down on Green's home. Her family never returns. As she attempts to survive with burned eyes and looters raiding the abandoned homes, Green sews thorns into her clothes, drives nails into her boots, and covers herself with black tattoos. She becomes Ash. But despite everything she has lost, she has gained the talent to tell good from bad simply by touching, by feeling. She feels the sorrow of the pure white Greyhound she finds in the woods and names her Ghost. She feels the light in the mute boy in the black hood who appears on her doorstep and names him Diamond. But it takes the insight of the starving elderly woman next door to feel the changes in Ash and rename her Green.
Hints dropped in the last third of GREEN ANGEL imply that the city (and thus Green's family) was destroyed not by a natural accident, but by malevolent people. For me, this turned an already darkly powerful story into a tale that packed quite a punch. The first half was good, albeit slightly simple, but the second half made me cry. Alice Hoffman's way with words is both subtle and piercing. And the book's covers (with Green on the front and Ash on the back) add compellingly real images to the word portraits already painted inside. This tiny novel (116 pages) is sometimes confusing about time and place, but I felt the mystery added to the overall impression: In many places GREEN ANGEL reads like a fairytale.
While I can see where this story might not appeal to readers not easily able to suspend disbelief, GREEN ANGEL is still a mystical and haunting tale of one girl's search for healing that I could not recommend more highly.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
this book-i honestly could not put down- i could relate to the characters in this story because i am the younger sister, the wild and fast one. i am not shy, socialibe, and generous to my sisters. i also felt the pain that Green went through when she lost her family. she lost the will to want to survive. like the darkness she lived in, she became it. she grew in the dark and then realized that she was not ever going to be the same girl. when she encounters the greyhound Ghost and the mute boy Diamond, she sees that they have the same pain as she does.
in her dreams, her sister speaks to her- asking for help, then when Green is turned to Ash, Aurora(her sister) no longer recognizes who she is.
this book is about losing things in life, enduring the pain that always trails behind that lost, and the reinvention of your indentity. remembering is a big part of this story as well as believeing that things will change. change is constant, it is something no one has control over
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Hoffman's third short novel marketed to the young adult audience has appeal far beyond the angstful teen readers for whom it was likely written. This is more prose poem than novel, although there is a typically twisty-turny-quirky Hoffman plot that satisfies deeply. The deft use of archetypal/fairy tale/mythological concepts resonate the text on many levels. But language is the essence here: pure, poetic, lyrically luminous and unnervingly numinous. A sensual delight; a sweet and succulent literary morsel; simple lovely reading pleasure.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
From almost the first line of the first page of Green Angel, Alice Hoffman's newest young adult book, I was transported to this author's special world of magic realism. Once the domain of writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende, today Alice Hoffman takes her place alongside of them.
A parable of September 11th, Ms. Hoffman using sparse language in a small book speaks volumes. The book centers around the emotional plight of a young girl whose parents and sister fail to return home after a day spent working in the city. After word reaches the young girl that a catastrophe has occurred and many are lost, she goes through various stages of grief. The young girl tries to find her way and a place for herself and encounters many events and other people shattered by a world gone mad. One cannot help but think back to those grim days after 9/11 and remember our own feelings that ranged from shock to sorrow and even anger. And when I finished the last page of this book I realized how well Hoffman presented this material to both young adults and adults alike.
There are very few authors whose writing moves me the way Alice Hoffman's does. She is a master for making her readers feel all of the emotions she captures on paper as if we are within the pages of this book. I finished this book with a sigh and wanted to begin it all over again. I also fully realized once again why I love to read and most of all why I love to read a book by Alice Hoffman.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read in my life. Besides the fact that Hoffman has a brilliant poetic writing style, the story itself penetrated me.

Fifteen-year-old Green has never quite felt like she fit in. When she loses her family to a fire, she becomes depressed and changes her whole perspective on life. This is the story of how she learns to accept herself and learns to love.

This book literally made me cry, it was so beautiful. Grades six and up could read this and understand it, but I think older readers could really get a lot out the many layers of meaning in this story. Alice Hoffman is brilliant; I think this is her best work. Far better than Aquamarine, which seems to be selling the best. Buy Green Angel now, and see if it doesn't change your life. Even if you don't read too often, try this. It's really short, and I promise you won't be wasting your time. The hundred and sixteen pages of this pocket-size book pack unbelieveable power.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
A young adult novel by an author I truly admire, I really liked this very (very) short tale. A rather vague disaster strikes a city (one is left with the notion that it was a large bombing of some sort), and a girl's family is left for dead. This girl, Green, stayed home, didn't say a proper goodbye that day, and suffers a truly evocative survivor's guilt.

We see Green's view through smudged eyes, and as she withdraws into a cocoon of non-emotion, she tattooes herself with black vines, black roses, black bats, shears her hair short, and turns inward. As she encounters other survivors, and moves toward healing, Hoffman's intense prose style really shines through with the emotionality of all the characters.

Stirring work - I know I would have loved it as a younger reader, and even as an adult, I quite enjoyed it, despite it being so very brief.

'Nathan
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
A superb story for parents & teens to share, Green Angel follows 15-year-old Green as she struggles to survive on her own in the aftermath of a terrible disaster.
Bringing to mind the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, Green watches as the city over the river burns and worries about her family who is there selling vegetables at market. As she realizes that they will not be returning home she must decide how to survive on her own. Her lovely green world is ruined by the fire's aftermath and thus Green renames herself, Ash. Ash spends evenings tattooing her body with roses and thorns; her strange new world is shrouded in darkness, both physical and emotional.
Green's struggle to define herself in the face of change is a journey we will all recognize but Hoffman has also shown us all of humanity - fearing, mourning, angering, healing.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book tells the story, in a first person point of view, of a teenager named Green. One day, the other members of her family go into the village. They never returned.
A fire burned down the village, killing most, if not all, of the residents. Green is now all alone.
Green begins to completely change her appearance. She cuts off her hair, because it reminded her too much of her mother. She takes nails and put them through her heavy boots, and wears tights with thorns. She used ink, and gives herself tattoos all over her body. (A self-mutilation of sorts) She is now forced to look at herself, and to find where she really belongs. All on her own. Finding love in exactly the right place.
I really enjoyed this book. It's sad, and yet uplifting all at once. Leaving you with a smile, long after you read the last page.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
GREEN ANGEL by Alice Hoffman is a beautiful tale - a long poem, really - teeming with lyrical prose that is reminiscent of Francesca Lee Block's books. At a mere 120 pages, it doesn't seem to last long enough.
Green was once a calm, serene, and quiet young girl. One day, after her family goes off to sell produce for profit without letting her tag along, Green is angered. But her anger changes to sorrow when she finds they won't be coming home. A catastrophic conflagration has swept the earth, taking lives. It leaves behind black ash, making the world a dark and ominous place in which the daily task of living is a challenge. Now Green, filled with guilt, must be self-sufficient, despite the fact that, at the very same time, she must recover from her loss and her guilt that refuses to subside.
I felt Hoffman's poetic tale to be a downer - it's not once sugary sweet or overly heartwarming, sappy, or happy. Green changes to Ash, as does her personality. She dons black clothing adorned with thorns. Drawings scrawled in black ink cover her arms and legs. The pain of the thorns pricking her flesh does not faze her, nor does the remainder of the adolescent population, happy on their parents' liquor and dancing all night.
Readers suffer with Green as she, a believable protagonist, picks up the pieces of her life in a courageous effort to move on. Her story is told poetically, beautifully, and eloquently, therefore flowing naturally. Despite being short page-wise, it isn't an easy read. Ages 12 and up recommended.
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