The kids who would respond well to the novel(s) I am reviewing today would more likely be sleeping in, scrunched up under the covers, on Saturday mornings than watching cartoons. Alice Hoffman has written some wonderful YA novels along with her outstanding adult novels, which turn something ordinary into something extraordinary, using a “touch”of the supernatural. The double novel, Green Heart contains two novellas, Green Angel and Green Witch.
As with Faithful (reviewed earlier on this blog), the protagonist is a fifteen year old girl. Like Faithful, Hoffman’s sophisticated novellas could be labeled “coming-of-age stories.” This double novel is a “two-fold story of loss and love.” The fifteen-year-old Green Angel maintains a wonderful garden which bears plants, vegetables, and flowers that her family takes with them when they go to town to market. One October weekend, her whole family goes off to market and are lost in a terrible fire that consumes the market and the town. Ashes from this disaster even cover the countryside farm where she had stayed behind. Also, the young man she loved is missing. Has he betrayed her, or has he been betrayed? Her only consolation is working in the ruined garden where nothing will grow. Slowly, over years, she resurrects the garden, with Hoffman’s signature touch of the supernatural, touch of magic.
Over time, she begins to heal. She learns the truth about love, hope, and magic. One day, the Green Angel, “branded [by her neighbors] for her mysterious powers,” and called a witch by little children, begins a quest to discover what became of the boy she had once loved.
The exciting end of the quest and the “battle” that ensues demonstrates the Angel/Witch’s craftiness and dedication to love. The ending is quite satisfactory.
Interestingly enough the metaphor of tattoos prevails throughout the novel(s). The first,vines, inked in green and self-inflicted by the devastated young fifteen-year-old, foreshadow many more tattoos of growing things and becomes a major theme of resurrection, life and change.
To me, this was a magical, beautifully written book, one of Alice Hoffman’s best. I give it five stars out of five.