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White Oleander
White Oleander
Author: Janet Fitch
Astrid is the only child of a single mother, Ingrid, a brilliant, obsessed poet who wields her luminous beauty to intimidate and manipulate men. Astrid worships her mother and cherishes their private world full of ritual and mystery-but their idyll is shattered when Astrids mother falls apart over a lover. Deranged by rejection, Ingrid murders t...  more »
ISBN-13: 9781860498046
ISBN-10: 1860498043
Publication Date: 11/2/2000
Pages: 390
Edition: New Ed
  • Currently 4.6/5 Stars.

4.6 stars, based on 14 ratings
Publisher: Virago Press Ltd
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette
Members Wishing: 1
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

mazeface avatar 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 + 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 + 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.
Ryeth avatar 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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SandraB avatar reviewed White Oleander on + 185 more book reviews
Read by Oprah - awesome!
divadeb avatar reviewed White Oleander on
Written with poetic justice!

Although this book started out with a bit of a yawn, taking me about the first two chapters before it gained interest, I am certainly delighted I did not put it down!!

I was captured. The story delves into areas your mind does not want to go, but it is taken. Like watching a wreck (you do not want to see it, but cannot look away). Janet Fitch grabs you in such an artistic, poetic way, that you are intrigued, disgusted, and with a peel-your-skin-back kind of way. Yet, you know there is too much of a reality mixed in this novel, as well.

This should be a suggested read to all mature readers!!
reviewed White Oleander on + 28 more book reviews
A Book Club Choice. A great story!
reviewed White Oleander on
Incredible book about relationship between a mother and a daughter. Astrid was thrust into the foster care system after her mother goes to prison for murdering an ex-boyfriend. Her mother was a poet and lived an avante guard life style, keeping her daughter hauntingly thirsting for her mother during the years of living with an assortment of foster care families in L.A. Although she was in prison, she could still control her daughters life with her words. As Astrid grows through puberty into a young woman she becomes self reliant and independent. After her foster mother committs suicide because of something her mother said, Astrid turns from her mother and sees her as she really is, self serving and controlling. She becomes more self reliant and is able to break the spell of her mother over her.
A very provocative book, I didn't want it to end!
lauren-s avatar 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.
reviewed White Oleander on + 18 more book reviews
Beautiful and believable.
reviewed White Oleander on + 18 more book reviews
This book was intriguing to me.
The characters were all very interesting,making this book unpredictable, I never knew what was going to happen next.
littlestar avatar reviewed White Oleander on + 15 more book reviews
Wonderful book. Well written heartbreaking but realistic story.
reviewed White Oleander on + 72 more book reviews
My daughter and I both really enjoyed this book. It was very intriguing and really kept us hooked and wanting to see how it all played out.
reviewed White Oleander on + 5 more book reviews
The book was SO much better than the movie!
Bibliocrates avatar reviewed White Oleander on + 252 more book reviews
I really liked this book! Astrid's foster home experiences were disturbing on so many levels. I couldn't help but be drawn into the story. I found her trials and tribulations believable, her character real. This book read more like a memoir than fiction. It was well-written, poetic. I highly recommend it! I will keep an eye out for more from this author for sure. Much was left out of the movie, understandably. All of the actors played their parts well, but Michelle Pfeiffer as Ingrid was a great choice!
MyLikeIt avatar reviewed White Oleander on + 450 more book reviews
An amazing novel. Not to be missed.
reviewed White Oleander on + 10 more book reviews
It's an amazing book. Written so poetically and beautifully, it's one that will keep you reading until the very end! How she deals with all of the different homes, situations, and styles of life are completely amazing and how she develops into the person she is (Some in a bad way). I've never seen the movie, but this is one of the best books i've ever read!
reviewed White Oleander on + 7 more book reviews
I really enjoyed reading this book "Janet Fitch writes with breathtaking beauty about the central theme of our age: the search for self. White Oleander is a remarkable debut novel." -Robert Olen Butler, author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain