Book Review: "White Oleander" | TheUnion.com
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Book Review: "White Oleander"

“White Oleander”

by Janet Fitch

Little Brown & Co., 1999



Exquisite, lethal oleander has starred in literature before, memorably in Daphne DuMaurier’s “My Cousin Rachel.” But here it not only signifies the murder of a lover; it also symbolizes the death of dreams, illusions and hope for a better tomorrow.




It is also a metaphor for motherhood, as represented by Ingrid, a single mother who uses her luminous beauty to entrap men.

Her daughter, Astrid, however, is the main protagonist of this novel. After Ingrid is imprisoned for murdering her feckless paramour, Astrid is condemned to a series of foster homes, most of them so bizarre that they bear no relationship to contemporary, hardworking foster parents.

Plucky and realistic, the young girl perseveres, missing the mother she both loves and hates, learning to cope in an indifferent world. Each home has its own rules and regulations; Astrid learns to adapt, no matter how cruel the circumstances.

Save for a few scatological instances, which add nothing to this breathtaking novel, the writing is powerful, absorbing and beautifully done. Of course, it is already a film, but the book is better. A “must read.”

– Joan Agar, Nevada City


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I guess I am getting old and grumpy. What is with the “good job” expression being so commonly used in very unexpected settings?



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