The Green Angels
Andrew Dewar was a graduate of the journalism program at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, and on the staff of the North York Public Library.
There’s something too good to be true about Nicky Millard’s The Green Angels. The book has a lot of good points, to be sure: the quality of the writing is fairly high and the story does carry the reader along. But the fact remains that a lot of the action is just a little too good and a little too pat to be really very believable.
To start with, the heroine lives in a government-assisted apartment because her mother is in reduced circumstances, but both Jenny and her mother are characters as spotless as anything from a school primer. Her neighbours seem forbidding and tough to start with but her goodness brings them around. And every obstacle placed in her path by fate is turned, as often as not by coincidence, to her advantage.
Jenny begins her summer glumly, expecting rejection by her peers; to keep herself busy she begins to clean up an abandoned piece of land. In the course of the story she befriends her neighbours and puts them to work on her project, until the resulting park changes a dowdy neighbourhood into a sparkling one.
Millard writes fairly well, but the dialogue swings between a stilted informality and a robust earthiness. If she had followed her instincts and her ear for dialogue the book could have been superb, but as it stands it is slightly cloying, and it doesn’t quite ring true.