57 pages 1 hour read

Randi Pink

Angel Of Greenwood

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2021

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Summary and Study Guide


Angel Of Greenwood (2021) is a young adult historical fiction novel by Randi Pink. In the days leading up to the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, 16-year-old Greenwood residents Angel and Isaiah fall in love and discuss strategies for political and social change. Days after beginning their relationship, the couple, faced with the massacre, rises into leadership positions and helps save the lives and hopes of many community members. The novel illustrates the importance of hope, faith, love, and resilience in the face of racial violence and historical trauma.

This guide refers to the paperback edition published by Square Fish in 2022.

Content Warning: Angel Of Greenwood and this guide mention the Tulsa Race Massacre, racial violence, death, historical trauma, racism, and injustice.

Plot Summary

A few days before the end of the school year, Angel Hill sits on her porch with her father, who is sick and dying. He warns that the storm clouds indicate something ominous on the horizon. Angel helps her mother bring her father to bed.

Isaiah Wilson, whose father died in World War I, reads and writes voraciously in his bedroom until he notices a group of 16 white boys hanging out near his house. Angel walks by carrying some crutches, which she saved for a month to purchase for her dad. She stands up to the white boys, but they still take the crutches and destroy them. She runs away unharmed while Isaiah watches from his room, too afraid to interfere. Angel helps her mom fix other children’s hair to earn money. At church, Isaiah sees Angel dance and falls in love with her.

Angel takes care of the neighbor’s colicky baby instead of attending morning classes one day. She takes the baby on a walk, and everyone stops to talk to her; Greenwood is a close-knit community. Angel prefers Booker T. Washington’s philosophies because he prioritized slow, measured change and felt it was possible to have a thriving Black community that was still segregated. Angel believes Greenwood is an example of this. Isaiah, however, prefers the more active, speedy approach of W. E. B. Du Bois. Angel visits Deacon Yancey from church, and he warns her to stay away from Isaiah. Around town, Isaiah is seen as a troublemaker because he’s always getting up to mischief with his best friend, Muggy. In fact, the two boys have bullied Angel for years, but recently, Isaiah has started being friendlier to Angel. Isaiah secretly dislikes Muggy but feels indebted to him because his wealthier family helped out Isaiah and his mom after his father died.

Isaiah writes a love poem about Angel, and their English teacher, Miss Ferris, reads it and praises it. Miss Ferris offers Isaiah and Angel a summer job running a mobile library and delivering books to an underserved area of Greenwood. Isaiah accepts on the spot, but Angel hesitates due to Isaiah’s past bullying of her.

Isaiah has been seeing a girl named Dorothy Mae, whom he doesn’t like much. Still, he lets her in when she shows up at his house. While he’s in the bathroom, she takes his notebook and gives it to Muggy, unbeknownst to Isaiah. Muggy then reads it, discovers the love poem about Angel, and shows it to Angel. This causes her to accept the summer job. Dorothy Mae realizes how upset Isaiah is about his missing journal and asks Muggy to return it, which he does, but only after reading the love poem to Angel, reading a poem about how Isaiah secretly hates Muggy, and destroying Isaiah’s college application essays.

Miss Ferris buys a bicycle with a sidecar for Isaiah and Angel to deliver books. They fix the bike up, and a neighbor named Mr. Morris builds a crate with different sections for them to carry the books. The kids choose their first batch of books and argue over who is better: Booker T. Washington or W. E. B. Du Bois. This argument becomes heated, with Angel insulting Isaiah and then crying. However, Miss Ferris helps them reconcile, and both kids start to see the value in both authors’ perspectives. Furthermore, Miss Ferris emphasizes the importance of knowledge, faith, hope, and love in the struggle for justice. Both authors’ works contain valuable lessons about these topics.

Walking home from Miss Ferris’s house, Isaiah and Angel encounter Muggy, who disrespects their neighbor, Mrs. Tate, and her family. Isaiah punches Muggy, and Mrs. Tate tells Angel to go home. Later, the townspeople suddenly respect Isaiah more because he finally stood up to Muggy. Isaiah starts acting kinder, braver, more honest, and more helpful toward everyone around him.

While delivering books to the underserved neighborhood of Greenwood, Angel and Isaiah spend hours reading to a group of eager young girls. The next day, they attend a Memorial Day parade, which is bittersweet for Isaiah due to his father’s death in World War I. On that same day, a white woman screams while in an elevator with a Black man, contributing to rising racial unrest between Tulsa and Greenwood. That evening, the Tulsa Race Massacre begins.

Isaiah and Angel are both reading in their rooms late at night. Isaiah smells burning trees, sees flames and a mob, and hears screams. He wakes his mother, gathers supplies, and leaves home for good. He sends his mom to the church to set up a sanctuary while he goes around waking up neighbors who are still asleep so they can get out in time. A man breaks into Angel’s house and is about to burn it down. Angel’s father pleads for her and her mom to leave without him and save themselves, and they do. Angel also sends her mom to the church and goes to wake more people up. She saves the mother of Truly, a girl from church, from a burning house.

Muggy appears to Isaiah, and they reconcile. They also try to save Mrs. Edward, whose mailbox they once blew up, but she’s elderly with arthritis and doesn’t want to run. They head to the church and help nurse peoples’ wounds. While waking up the families in the underserved area of Greenwood, Angel notices a plane circling the church as if it’s about to drop a bomb. She rushes back there to warn everyone. As they’re filing out of the church and walking toward a field, Muggy gets an idea for how to wake up anyone who’s still sleeping: the church bell in the tower. Despite the plane and the bomb, he climbs up and rings the bell to save more lives before perishing himself.

A month later, with most of Greenwood’s buildings destroyed, its residents are gathered outside. Angel reads aloud to young children and answers their questions while others run a makeshift outdoor kitchen to feed everyone. Meanwhile, Isaiah inspires a group of grown men with a speech about how, although they stole physical objects, burned buildings, and snuffed out some lives, the mob wasn’t able to crush their spirits, steal their knowledge, or snuff out their love, hope, and faith. Therefore, they will be able to heal and rebuild a new version of Greenwood; they have not been defeated.