Angel of Greenwood is a moving and emotional historical fiction set in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Detailing the lives of Angel and Isaiah before the terrible Greenwood Massacre in 1921. As I read, I could feel the dread in my stomach, while also getting swept away in Angel’s story. Keep reading this book review to find out my thoughts on this five star read.
Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Wilson is, on the surface, a town troublemaker, but is hiding that he is an avid reader and secret poet, never leaving home without his journal. A passionate follower of WEB. Du Bois, he believes that black people should rise up to claim their place as equals.
Sixteen-year-old Angel Hill is a loner, mostly disregarded by her peers as a goody-goody. Her father is dying, and her family’s financial situation is in turmoil. Also, as a loyal follower of Booker T. Washington, she believes, through education and tolerance, that black people should rise slowly and without forced conflict.
Though they’ve attended the same schools, Isaiah never noticed Angel as anything but a dorky, Bible toting church girl. Then their English teacher offers them a job on her mobile library, a three-wheel, two-seater bike. Angel can’t turn down the money and Isaiah is soon eager to be in such close quarters with Angel every afternoon.
But life changes on May 31, 1921 when a vicious white mob storms the community of Greenwood, leaving the town destroyed and thousands of residents displaced. Only then, Isaiah, Angel, and their peers realize who their real enemies are.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: assault, racism
Angel of Greenwood is a book, days after finishing, that I still don’t know how to process. Pink is able to take readers on a journey of dread, joy, secrets, and thrills. Tulsa is their community of happiness in a world of strife. A world of injustice. A testament to the fact that the worst things can happen to the best of people. But at the same time, Angel of Greenwood is a love story. Pink uses the background of Tulsa, the currents of danger, to paint a sweeping portrayal of love and forgiveness.
In this Dual POV story, Angel and Isaiah are compassionate and endearing. The ways we need the bravery to be ourselves, to believe we can change. Angel of Greenwood is a story about their lives, their trials and mistakes, their joys and fears. It’s a celebration of how one person can impact our life. Readers can feel the mounting tension. Knowing that the powder key is going to explode, but I was swept away in the details of Angel and Isaiah’s lives. How we worry about the details of tomorrow, while not realizing it’s not guaranteed.
Reading Angel of Greenwood in 2020 made me pause for thoughts. Because the question that still haunts us today, is how do we live in the remnants of this world? On top of the foundations of slavery and injustice. In the ashes of homes burned down in fear and intolerance. How can we be neighbors to those who stood by and let our houses burn, who struck the match? It’s not up to Pink to provide the answers. But I think a piece of the puzzle is to acknowledge the scars of the past, the graves of the dead, and the ashes that are part of our Earth. Angel of Greenwood is a powerful historical fiction novel about resilience, hope, and change. It is a poignant story about love and inspiration, while also asking important questions about racism and moving forwards.