Saturday, November 20, 2010

White Oleander by Janet Fitch

The story is told from Astrid Magnussen's point of view. She is a young girl (story goes from age 12-18), who lives with her mother, Ingrid, who is a smooth, freeminded poet. They live in an apartment in Hollywood, California. They go to museums, read books by Dmitry and Dostoyevsky, and do poetry readings. Ingrid uses her charm to lure in men and have carefree relationships, but she gets too serious in one of these relationships. After the man breaks it off with Ingrid, she kills him. She is then put into prison and sentenced for life.

So begins Astrid's life of foster care and life altering changes. Throughout the story, Astrid is at 6 different homes, including a children's center. Each home is filled with people and experiences that all take their toll on Astrid and her upbringing. These include: getting involved with a MUCH older man, gun shot wounds, starvation, and a death, to name a few. During her time at these homes, she corresponds with her mother with letters, in which Ingrid is still trying to shape her daughter...even through prison. Astrid soon realizes that her mother wants her to remain unhappy in these homes, so she will still be "needed" by her daughter, and so that she can still influence Astrid into becoming like her.This book, while occasionally disturbing, is an important one to read. 4.5 STARS!


  1. I read this one years ago. I remember the writing being good, but I agree... it was disturbing in places.

  2. I agree this was disturbing in places.

  3. I too read this many years ago. I remember I enjoyed it, but when I heard it was being made into a movie (2002), I decided I didn't want to go see it. The subject matter was very disturbing to me.

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  5. This book sounds disturbing, but I'd give it a try if I have it.

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  6. I haven't read it yet, but I have always wanted to, because I had watched half the movie a couple of years ago and I thought it was so powerful and sad!!
    Thanks for the rec/review!