Angel of Greenwood

Feiwel & Friends. Jan. 2021. 304p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250768476.
Gr 9 Up–The love story of Isaiah Wilson and Angel Hill begins in 1921, 12 days before the Tulsa race massacre. World War I is still in the memories of the residents of Greenwood, the section of Tulsa known as Black Wall Street. Isaiah is not thought highly of in the community because of the people he chooses as friends. The community loves Angel and is always looking out for her. The seed for Isaiah and Angel’s young love is planted when they are asked to work on a teacher’s summer literacy project. Their relationship is tested by the community busybodies, but the ultimate test comes during the early morning hours of June 1, 1921, when white citizens of Tulsa set fire to the homes and businesses of Greenwood. Each chapter tells the story through the perspective of different characters, mostly alternating between Angel and Isaiah. The setting of the 1921 Tulsa massacre is a powerful and ambitious choice; however, most of the story is spent slowly building up the relationship between the two main characters. Their relationship is believable, but few details of the setting make it feel like 1921. The pace picks up as readers arrive at the early morning hours of June 1. The story ends abruptly, leaving readers with questions about the fate of Greenwood, its citizens, and the young couple. The author’s concise afterword offers some additional information.
VERDICT Readers looking to familiarize themselves with the Tulsa race massacre will find more love story than history lesson in this historical novel.

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