My heart is destroyed.
That's a nice way to start a review, huh? Read on, my pretties.
I first discovered this book during a cover reveal on Instagram where I promptly followed the author and gushed over the cover and synopsis. It popped up on Edelweiss soon after, and I managed to grab an e-arc. Although I had a few books in the lineup before I could dive in, ANGEL OF GREENWOOD was on the back of my mind the entire time. I couldn't wait to start reading, and Randi Pink is such a sweetheart, I couldn't wait to gush some more in unsolicited DMs, as I do.
This gorgeously written book takes place in the tragic town of Greenwood, OK in 1921 where the Black communities in America were just beginning to thrive. Greenwood, entirely run by Black townsfolk, prided itself on its ability to live separate but successful lives from white people on the other side of the tracks. The entire time I read this book, I had this nagging sort of anxiety; the massacre in Greenwood was not taught in schools, but I was educated on it by other sources over the years. Nothing could have prepared me for the heartbreak.
ANGEL OF GREENWOOD centers around two teens: Isaiah, a secret poet, and admirer or our second protagonist, Angel. Angel, a dancer, and a loner who helps around town by caring for her ailing father and the colicky baby next door is a lover of Booker T Washington and believes, against Isaiah beliefs, that Blacks should slowly come into their power as opposed to rising quickly to be one with the whites. These opposing views do not stop the two from developing a friendship through their school delivering books to those in need. Amidst their budding romance, Isaiah deals with the toxic friendship with Muggy, his best friend, and the prying eyes of those who judge him for liking Angel.
This is a story of love, acceptance, and finding yourself; a story in the center of a tragedy not unlike Titanic or Pearl Harbor (sorry for the strange comps, they're all I could think of for this comparison), but different in a way that is more realistic than those two combined. Angel and Isaiah do not have an insta-love; their love is realistic and flawed as they both are. I adored watching their path through life converge with each other.
The Tulsa Race Wars were one of the most tragic events in US history. American planes were used to drop bombs on an American city. I mean, WTF. Why aren't these things taught in school? Maybe my school sucked (there's a high probabilty of that) and maybe you all learned about it, but for the majority who did not, reading about it now is utterly heart wrenching.
America commited genocide in 1921. Let that sink in.
They burned churches. Let that sink in.
They burned the Black hospital and refused to treat victims in nearby white communities. Let that sink in.
The message of hope that rises from the ashes of Greenwood is brighter than the fires that destroyed it. This book reminds us to stop erasing history, and that love overcomes tragedy.
Info on the massacre can be found here: https://www.tulsahistory.org/exhibit/...