Alice Hoffman is the mistress of magical realism - she creates worlds that dance on the line between real and the fantastic. None of the characters in her books wave magic wands or share their lives with dragons or unicorns. Rather, theyexperience physical manifestations of their traits, dreams and desires. A woman with acold heart will be able to freeze objects solid at a single glance. The loved one of a drowning victim will find soaking wet waterweeds in coat pockets. Ghosts of lovers and family members will appear in dreams and impart important messages.
Most of Hoffman's books are for adults, but she has written two gems for the young adult crowd. The first bookis Green Angel. Fifteen year old Green (so called because of her magic touch with plants) lives in a small village across from abeautiful city. One day, a sullenGreen is left behindto weed the garden while her family,a mother, father and a younger sister, go to city to sellproduce from the garden. While her family are in the city, calamity strikes. A terriblebomb goes off within the city, destroying all within its borders and blighting the surrounding landscape with a devastating firestorm. Green loses her entire family, her gardenand much of her vision in the disaster. Now a grieving Green must learn to survive in the post-apocalyptic landscape and allow her heart to heal after the tragedy.
Hoffman's use of magical realism is evident throughout the story. One of my favorite examples is the evolution of Green's tattoos. Green tattoos herself with thorns to show her new spiky, impervious nature. As she opens herself to care for others, the thorns slowly bloom into roses. If you enjoy the lovely imagery in this book, the sequel Green Witch is also available.