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Black Angels Hardcover – March 13, 2001
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Learn more
During the summer of 1961, 11-year-old Celline Brower Jenkins discovers the existence of angels. "I believe in angels because I've seen them... three naked black girls with creamy white wings, throwing stones on my hopscotch board.... The angels come every day now since the trouble started." The "trouble" is that Celli's beloved housekeeper, Sophie, is stirring up the black community of Mystic, Georgia, with talk of the civil rights movement. Celli is frightened for Sophie, and knows the folks on her side of town--"the white side"--won't tolerate her activism much longer. But when Celli begins to see the small black angels around her home, she feels strangely comforted: "They never speak to me, but somehow their presence fills me with hope." Then a stranger with a secret about Celli's past comes to town the same week as the Freedom Riders, and Celli discovers her fate is tied to Sophie's in a way she never dreamed possible. Now Celli must find the courage, in a dangerous time and place, to stand up for what she knows is right.
Rita Murphy's second novel for young adults puts a fresh face on a familiar story. By inserting a trio of unconventional angels into the center of an ugly period of American history, Murphy gives her historical fiction a touch of fairy tale, while not shying away from the harsh reality of 1960s racism. A worthy companion novel to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry or The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963. (Ages 10 to 13) --Jennifer Hubert
From Publishers Weekly
In Murphy's (Night Flying) second novel, she again mixes a folksy first-person narrative with a touch of magic, albeit with less success than in her previous work. Set in small-town Mystic, Ga., during the summer of 1961, the novel centers on 11-year-old Celli, who lives on the "white side" of town but sees visions of black angels "descending into the peach trees or sitting in the garden." Celli's single mother spends the month of July at her sister's, leaving Celli and her 14-year-old brother, Ellery, in the care of their cook, Sophie, a fiery, outspoken African-American involved in organizing the Freedom Riders' arrival. In fact, readers may find Sophie a bit too loose-lipped to be believed, given her leadership role (Why, for instance, would she confide so many of her views and plans to the children in her charge?). Then, Celli's life is turned around by the arrival of her African-American paternal grandmother, a family secret subtly foreshadowed in the text. During a demonstration, Sophie ends up in jail, and Celli's half-Jewish-half-African-American neighbor appears at her door, wrongly accused of breaking a window. The angels give Celli the courage she needs to perform a daring act. Unfortunately, the suspense never really translates to readers and Celli's motivations remain somewhat muddled. Unlike the flesh-and-blood family featured in Murphy's debut novel, the sketchily drawn characters here fail to bring the story to life. Ages 9-up. (Mar.).
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.