“White Oleander” by Janet Fitch

I just finished reading Janet Fitch’s White Oleander and I fell in love with it. This novel is written with so much honesty, you can’t help but be pulled in and have a hard time escaping.

I’d read about the novel and the movie, but hadn’t had the time to read the novel during my final year at University …being an English specialist keeps you busy reading a lot of books…. I finally sat down to read it and I was amazed at Fitch’s storytelling; she holds nothing back. If something terrible happens, she doesn’t sugar coat it … you get the pain, the tears, the blood, the torture, the overall terrible circumstances throughout the novel.

I guess I should tell you about the story so you know more about it. The story follows the relationship between a mother and daughter, Ingrid and Astrid (respectively). Sounds nice, right? Well, I’d ask you to reconsider. Ingrid isn’t the best mother; she’s a poet and has only herself in mind and kind of forgets she even has a kid. She eventually goes against her rules of never falling in love and falls for a guy named Barry who ends up breaking her heart. So what does she do? Murders him, of course. While Ingrid is in jail for the murder of Barry Kolker, eleven-year-old Astrid is taken from foster home to foster home. Though the story starts off with the mother-daughter relationship, it follows Astrid up until she turns 18; her terrible foster parents, her trouble with drugs and violence, and her correspondences with her mother through letters. It’s an amazing story of survival and what it’s like for a child to grow up without an adult figure in her life.

A definite must read!

There is also the movie version of the novel, which I found to be alright. Michelle Pfeiffer does an excellent job of portraying the icy-cold Ingrid. Actually, all the actors fit their characters. The movie alters a lot of what happens in the novel, as any movie based on a novel does. It is worth watching after you read the novel though. A lot of the movie would be confusing or not understood as well without having read the novel first.

Here’s the trailer in case you’re interested in a sneak peak:

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