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Angel of Harlem

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  116 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Inspired by the extraordinary events of Dr. May Chinn’s life, Angel of Harlem is a deeply affecting story of love and transcendence. Weaving seamlessly scenes from the battlefields of the Civil War, during which her father escaped from slavery, to the Harlem living rooms and kitchen tables where May is sometimes forced to operate on her patients, this fascinating novel lay ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published April 2nd 2009 by One World/Ballantine (first published 2004)
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Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rowena by: Crease
"Sometimes Harlem would just do that, you understand. It would open up and reveal itself in a rigorous display of scents, various and commanding, floating its sounds around and above you, where they swirled generously, like autumn colours. In a while, you couldn't tell what was what, really, or where the sensations came from."- Kuwana Haulsey, Angel of Harlem

This is one of the most beautifully-written books I've ever read. Inspired by true events, it's the story of Dr. May Edward Chinn, the fi
Mocha Girl
If one believes that some people are truly destined for greatness regardless of their station in life, then Dr. May Edward Chinn is a perfect example. May is conceived as a "love child" of a married middle-aged former slave and an orphaned teenaged Indian maiden. The shame of their affair forces her parents to relocate to Harlem only to meet unemployment, impoverished living conditions, and rampant racial discrimination. Despite her father's negativism, chauvinistic views, and emotional abandonm ...more
With the very first line of this novel, maybe the best to begin a book that I've ever read, Kuwana Haulsey grabbed me and didn't let go.

I'm ashamed to admit that I had never heard the name May Edward Chinn prior to coming across Angel of Harlem. The first female doctor of Negro decent in New York City, May Chinn occupies two distinct places in Black History. In addition to her medical accomplishments, which included becoming the preeminent early cancer detection specialist in New York and one o
Dec 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book. Haulsey breathes life into an historical period and personality whose career changed the face of medicine in America in general and New York in particular. May Edward Chinn was the first African American female doctor in the state of New York city. Through this fictional account of her life, Haulsey takes literacy license informed through history and speculation on the life of Chinn. The result is an incredible work of fiction. The words melt of the page into the reader's bein ...more
Alicia (PrettyBrownEyeReader)
Dr. May Chinn is trailblazer that we haven't heard much about. This is a historical fiction novel based off her life. The author does a great job weaving history into the story. This was a book club pick and we had lots of discussion on the author's writing style and choice of story lines.
Oct 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never read anything by Kuwana Haulsey before and truthfully, the reason I picked up the book off the library shelves is that the title was the same as one of my favorite songs by U2!!!

This book is a novel based upon thelife of Dr. May Chinn, the first black woman doctor in NYC. I'm always a bit cautious reading a novel based on the life of a real person and I don't know enough about May Chinn to determine if the correlations are accurate.

However, Haulsey is a paints pictures with her words.
Aug 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I picked this book up at my library sale knowing nothing about it. I am so glad I did.

A novel based on the life of Dr. May Chinn, the first black female doctor in Harlem. This is the story of a truly amazing woman. It reads beautifully - as if you are experiencing life with her. Sadly, I knew nothing about May Chinn. She is certainly a woman whose life needs to be remembered.
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I chose to read this book after Rowena Monde posted some text from it on Twitter. The limited words she shared compelled me to read it because the writing was so lush. The haunting imagery Kuwana Haulsey's use of language projects is solid through the first section of the book. Then the she shifts gears to tell a story driven by both grit and loss.

The book is a fictive retelling of the life of May Edward Chinn, one of the first female, African American doctors in Harlem. It centers Chinn, but i
Tara Chevrestt
Dec 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tara by: Phyllis
May Edward Chinn was not only the first black female physician in Harlem, but the very first black female intern to work in Harlem Hospital and the first black female to graduate from New York University Medical School. And she accomplished all that in the tremulous 1920s when race riots were breaking out all over the country and hostilities ran high. Did I mention she was the first woman in New York to ride around in the ambulance? That was "man's work" back then.

Unfortunately, only a quarter
Liebes Buch
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In "Der Engel von Harlem" lässt die Autorin Kuwana Haulsey May Chinn ihre Lebensgeschichte erzählen. May Chinn war 1926 die erste schwarze Ärztin in New York. Ursprünglich hatte sie Musik studieren wollen. Da man ihr in diesem Fachbereich aber ankündigte, sie als Farbige durchfallen zu lassen, wechselte sie in den wissenschaftlichen Bereich, deren Professoren offener waren und ihr Talent gerne ausbilden wollten. Haulsey holt ein bisschen bei der Familiengeschichte aus, um den Kontrast zur Zeit d ...more
Nov 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love historical fiction because it gives you a "may have been" glimpse into the lives of those who really lived. May Edwards Chin was an African American DOCTOR- in the early 1920's. The fact that she got into medical school and had her own practice when most women didn't even have jobs is amazing- and that she did it during the time when southern blacks were not even allowed to go into most public places and northern blacks were treated with contempt and outright bigotry and hatred makes this ...more
Ursula Shelton
The book was okay; basically about Dr. Chin's life during the Harlem Renaissance. She lived a deprived life and her family structure was somewhat unstable, but she could always count on her mother. I had never heard of her prior to reading this book; I enjoyed the snap shots of history that that were in the book. I was hoping that Dr. Chin was able to really experience the love and prosperity that she deserved. These things never really came about for her, she seem to have a sweet and caring dis ...more
Nov 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm so intrigued. This story of a real woman with remarkable endurance is really interesting. Based during the early 1900s, this book tells the story of a girl who grew up in Harlem with dreams that should've been beyond her reach, as a black girl. I'm amazed at what she accomplished in life, fascinated by her friendships with other famous people we know (WEB Dubois, Langston Hughes, etc) and really interested in knowing how different her life was in New York (still oppressed obviously, given th ...more
Aug 15, 2007 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I just picked up this book in Barnes and Noble randomly for five bucks... it looks like its worth way more than the price... all I know so far is that it's about the first black female physician of Harlem who became that after a flourishing career as a pianist is cut short by a racist professor...and I'm sure there's more. This is coming out of my favorite time period in American history and in American literature - the Harlem Renaissance - and according to the book's jacket she was friends with ...more
Chandra Kamaria
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Haulsey's writing is captivating. It's lyrical and full of imagery. I didn't know much about Dr. May Edward Chinn so I'm happy that Haulsey brought her out so her legacy will be remembered. Now, for my criticism of the work. The organization of the story left something to be desired as the book opens and the flip-flop between 1st and 3rd person was a downside for me. Lastly, I felt the 1st person narrative was bit forced at times. Overall, though, great book.
Feb 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fiction fans
I never knew about this remarkable woman until I stumbled upon this book in the bargain section. What a treasure this book is! The story of Dr. May Chinn was never taught to me in history class or during "Black History Month." It seems I've been learning a lot more history, and in such a vivid and beautifully written way, from books and movies lately than I ever have in school. This was a history lesson, a love story, a book of self-discovery, and so much more.
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed listening to this book. It's a fictionalized account of the life of the first African American woman doctor in NY city in the early 20th century. What an amazing woman! It was also cool to see fictionalized versions of famous Harlem Renaissance artists like Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, etc figure into the story.
Breeann Kaczmarczyk
This is a true story of May Chinn, an African American growing up in New York City in the early 1900's. We watch her grow up and become the first black female practicing doctor in New York.

I really liked the way the author wrote this story. She not only gave us May Chinn's life, but she also gave us stories of her parents. It's a great book. I really enjoyed reading it.

Jan 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read. Inspirational story of a young woman growing up in the early 1900 motivated by discouraging economics and the Harlem Renaissance. Although fictional, her story follows closely with real charecters like Langston Hughes and Paul Robeson.
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this on CD from the library - amazing story - fiction but heavily based on historical research of the first black woman doctor in Harlem. Her story is riveting and a reminder of the not-so-distant racial history that is still so present in minds and hearts today.
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dr. May Chinn was obviously an extraordinary woman who led a remarkable life and accomplished great things over tremendous obstacles, but this book essentially turns her story into high-end chick-lit. It's still very readable but could have been much more in the hands of a less breathless author.
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All I can say is wow, it felt real.
Jun 03, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a historical fictional account based on the life of Dr. Chinn. This is not a biography.

I quit reading 1/3 of the way through because it was just not interesting enough.
Deborah Paige-Jackson
Loved it. Story of Mae E. Chinn.
The story moves along-told in first person. The main character does a lot of reflecting and the book is quite descriptive. A good read.
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating. A wonderful glimpse into generations of black Americans and life in Harlem.
Oct 23, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
A great read.
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faves
I loved this. It was a lot more interesting than first expected. time lines moved around too frequently in the first few chapters, then became clear. The strength of her mother was amazing! !
rated it really liked it
Dec 08, 2015
Peggy Hess Greenawalt
rated it really liked it
Aug 17, 2014
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