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White Oleander
White Oleander
Author: Janet Fitch
Everywhere hailed as a novel of rare beauty and power, WHITE OLEANDER tells the unforgettable story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder, and her daughter, Astrid, who's odyssey through a series of Los Angeles foster homes--each its own universe, with its own laws, its own dangers, its own hard lessons to be learned--becomes a redee...  more »
ISBN-13: 9780316284950
ISBN-10: 0316284955
Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 446
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.

3.8 stars, based on 836 ratings
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
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Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed White Oleander on + 34 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
I could not put this book down! "White Oleander" was wonderful from the very first sentence to the very last and I have Oprah to thank for bringing author Janet Fitch to my attention. The story is narrated by Astrid - a teenage girl - who suffers through years of living in the foster care system while her mother Ingrid serves a life sentence for murdering her ex-lover. (I can just envision a younger Angelina Jolie-type playing the role of Astrid in the film version.) Each family that Astrid lives with has its own unique (yet sometimes cliched) cast of characters that are instrumental in shaping and transforming the young woman she becomes. This is a novel of self discovery the hard way. I personally cannot imagine the loneliness and terror that Astrid experienced while bouncing from home to home to home. Ingrid stays present in Astrid's unstable life through letters and occasional visits and their strained relationship is key to Astrid's development. The character are so real, the writing style is beautiful, the plot moves swiftly and the story weaves the reader through every human emotion possible. While I'm not a fan of the Oprah Winfrey show, I am a fan of her book club and this novel ranks up there as one of her best picks
reviewed White Oleander on + 66 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 10
Yes, White Oleander is an Oprah Book Club selection, but I ended up enjoying it nonetheless. Astrid, an unusual name which seems to fit the character for some reason, is tight with her artistic, eccentric mother, Ingrid. Unfortunately, Ingrid murders her boyfriend and Astrid ends up in the foster care system of Los Angeles.

From home to home to home, Astrid is shuffled. Each situation ends up disastrous, and Astrid is affected. Each home is unique from the others, and an interesting cast of characters enter and leave the life of the protagonist.

I believe I got a better idea of what being a foster child, tossed about in "the system", would be like. Of course, the real experience would probably be even more difficult, but White Oleander gives the reader an idea. A bittersweet read and highly recommended.
reviewed White Oleander on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 9
This is a unique growing up tale of a young woman. It is almost impossible to put down and is full of surprises, from the bizarre to the hilarious. Foster home tales will never be the same. I highly recommend this novel.
reviewed White Oleander on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
Amazing book. It gives far more insight and storylines than the movie. If you loved the movie, you will LOVE the book.
reviewed White Oleander on + 82 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
One of the best books I've ever read. Very gripping, I couldn't put it down. The movie didn't do it justice in any way.
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reviewed White Oleander on + 16 more book reviews
This book is about a young girl who is going through alot of stuff. Her mother is a very opinionated woman who, thinks everything should be her way. This story goes through the life of the young girl and tells how she bounces from home to home and trying to be accepted at them. If you like dark reads, this is for you. It is good, but a dark story.
reviewed White Oleander on + 63 more book reviews
I don't read a lot of fiction, and to be honest this one caught my eye because I had seen the movie and found the story so unusual I wanted to know more. The book does not disappoint. The movie was of course less detailed, more emphasis on the worst parts, and with more attractive characters. The book was a good read. I liked it, didn't love it, but was glad I read it. I'm probably not the best judge of fiction works, because for every book I actually complete, there are at least 12 that I picked up to read and lost interest before getting very far. I finished this one because it was weird and different, a completely different set of characters than any I've ever met in my life. In real life, I have met people who were abandoned, neglected, or put in foster care when they were younger, and nearly every one turned out to be very grounded, decent and kind people despite the nasty way they were treated as children (I've never met any of their parents). I sort of knew the ending from the movie, it was good to see more detail in the book.
reviewed White Oleander on + 17 more book reviews
This book was beautifully written and made me feel that I was a silent witness to the events described.