Saturday, May 16, 2015

White Oleander Book Review

2015 Reading Challenge

10. White Oleander by Janet Fitch
    Topic/Theme: a book at the bottom of your to-read list

It tells the unforgettable story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder, and her daughter, Astrid, whose odyssey through a series of Los Angeles foster homes--each its own universe with its own laws, its own dangers, and its own hard lessons to be learned--becomes a redeeming and surprising journey of self-discovery.

My Review:
This book was at the bottom of my to read list because it's a book that I just wasn't sure if I was going to like it or not. Now that I'm finished reading this, I've come to realize that I made a mistake in doing that. This was one of the best well-written books that I have ever read.

Let's be honest, here. I've been struggling with this review because nothing that I have written seems right, at least to me (or maybe I'm just overthinking). There seems to be so much that I want to say, but that I can't explain.

Astrid's journey through the foster care system was so compelling to read. No matter what, good or bad, she managed to savor memories from each of the foster homes - I liked how she incorporated them into the suitcases at the end (you'll have to read the book to completely understand). Life is hard and it proved likewise for Astrid, although she had it pretty rough. She managed to pull through when all the odds were stacked against her.

The relationship between Ingrid and Astrid throughout Ingrid's time in prison was different. I found it odd that Astrid was the reason Ingrid managed to survive in prison, but at the same time, she seemed content when her daughter is hurting or unhappy. Astrid seems to be angry at her mother (and rightfully so) and for the most part, doesn't want anything to do with her. I found it surprising at the end when Astrid kept getting drawn back to Ingrid, despite everything that happened, but I'm glad she didn't give in and stayed with Paul in Berlin.

There were two things that were apparent. The most important thing that I got out of this story was that you can't let your past define you. And it's okay to start new and put the past behind you. After all, the present and the future is whatever you make it. Adversity is all around us and we all go through it in some way, but it's how you deal and get through that adversity that matters the most. You can choose to let the not so good memories of your past control you or you can use that to propel you do beat the odds.

The other thing (and which I have talked about before on this blog) is that Ingrid and Astrid both have something to express their feelings, with poetry for Ingrid and art for Astrid. I can't stress enough how important that is to have something to express yourself. For me, I can express myself through my writing (I'm not exactly the greatest at talking about my feelings person to person).

Saying that, what is your art, your passion, the thing you do to express yourself?

Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!



  1. The subject matter would cause me to not put it on my list. Actually I've added way to many books to my Kindle and Ipad, I just don't read fast enough to get through them all and I need to show some control and stop adding new ones until I catch up a little.

    1. I see what you mean. Yea, I was kind of hesitant about the subject matter as well. I also have too many books either with kindle/tablet (my kindle actually broke, but I have the app on my tablet) or actual books. Thanks for commenting and visiting! ~Meg