White Oleander is the story of Astrid and her journey through adolescence. But not any normal adolescence. After her mother leaves (for reasons I don't want to spoil for you), she is forced to go through multiple foster homes and meets many people on the way. Some good, some terrible, some tragic--Astrid learns life lessons no girl as young as she should learn so young. She is forced to grow up to quickly, and has to face her mother's issues while trying to deal with her own at the same time.
This novel is emotionally capturing. It's hard-hitting and poised in such a sophisticated manner. You feel so sorry for the main character, Astrid, because a young girl should not ever have to go through what she goes through. You just want to save her so it is impossible to put the book down because you want to know what happens to her in the end. I spent many classes in my junior year of high school (during the time I read this novel) ignoring the curriculum and just reading this novel. It sucks you in completely and you can't help but be completely sucked into the world that Janet Fitch beautifully created.
I would recommend this novel to anyone, honestly. I guess mostly I would recommend it to females in their teens, but adult females should read it as well. I'd say from age 15 and up, but women at least 17 or older would probably be the ones to appreciate it the most. Especially those with issues with their own mothers. This novel is very powerful with addressing maternal issues and females who don't necessarily have great maternal influences in their lives. That is how I connected to Astrid's story.
Janet Fitch writes so poetically and so beautifully. Her prose is absolutely flawless and throws you into this amazing, torn up, beautifully tragic world. It's a painting in words. Everyone should read it.
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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 mother's 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 mother's 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--Astrid's teenage life is intense....