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White Oleander by Janet Fitch – Dysfunctional But Wonderful

July 26, 2011
White Oleander by Janet Fitch

Oprah Book Club® Selection, May 1999: Astrid Magnussen, the teenage narrator of Janet Fitchs engrossing first novel, White Oleander, has a mother who is as sharp as a new knife. An uncompromising poet, Ingrid despises weakness and self-pity, telling her daughter that they are descendants of Vikings, savages who fought fiercely to survive. And when one of Ingrids boyfriends abandons her, she illustrates her point, killing the man with the poison of oleander flowers. This leads to a life sentence in prison, leaving Astrid to teach herself the art of survival in a string of Los Angeles foster homes.

As Astrid bumps from trailer park to tract house to Hollywood bungalow, White Oleander uncoils her existential anxieties. Who was I, really? she asks. I was the sole occupant of my mothers totalitarian state, my own personal history rewritten to fit the story she was telling that day. There were so many missing pieces. Fitch adroitly leads Astrid down a path of sorting out her past and identity. In the process, this girl develops a wire-tight inner strength, gains her mothers white-blonde beauty, and achieves some measure of control over their relationship. Even from prison, Ingrid tries to mold her daughter. Foiling her, Astrid learns about tenderness from one foster mother and how to stand up for herself from another. Like the weather in Los Angeles–the winds of the Santa Anas, the scorching heat–Astrids teenage life is intense. Fitchs novel deftly displays that, and also makes Astrids life meaningful. –Katherine Anderson

Amazing
This is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. The movie does not compare- if you liked the movie, this book is a MUST READ. I guarantee you will be impressed.

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White Oleander by Janet Fitch

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