• Busy Brunette

Book Review: White Oleander

Author: Janet Fitch

Published: 1999

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Number of Pages: 496

My Rating: 4 Summary from GoodReads.com:

When Astrid’s mother, a beautiful, headstrong poet, murders a former lover and is imprisoned for life, Astrid becomes one of the thousands of foster children in Los Angeles. As she navigates this new reality, Astrid finds strength in her unshakable certainty of her own worth and her unfettered sense of the absurd.

This was a book that I can say I didn’t particularly enjoy in the beginning. The author is praised for her poetic style and yet I felt it was kind of showy and over-the-top. While I did like the detail she gave and how much she would describe things, it was so in-depth that a lot of times it would distract me from the story and plot entirely and make me focus in completely on the poetic aspects.

As this book had been sitting on my bookshelf for years as one of those ‘I heard lots of good things and I really need to check it out’ books, I made myself keep reading to try to see what all the hype was about (Oprah motivates us in all kinds of ways). Let me tell you this- I am so happy I didn’t stop reading. Once you get past all of the similes and metaphors and really pay attention to the story line, it is a haunting story that will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

The main character, Astrid, is mature and intriguing despite being a young teenager at the beginning of the story. She is entranced by her fascinating mother, even at times terrified of her, due to her mystery, beauty, and wisdom. Fitch does a great job portraying Astrid’s mother, Ingrid, and grips you in the drama and fear that follows her wherever she goes. You will be sucked into the plot and follow Astrid’s journey until the very end. There is definitely a lot of darkness to it, the book is about a mother imprisoned for murder while her daughter is thrown to the broken foster-care system, but it gives you hope as well. Have you read it? Did you end up enjoying it as much as I did?

-Busy Brunette

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