White Oleander by Janet Fitch

White Oleander

Everywhere hailed as a novel of rare beauty and power, White Oleander 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, its own hard lessons to be learned--becomes a redeeming and surprising journey of self-discovery.

Details White Oleander

TitleWhite Oleander
Release DateSep 1st, 2001
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Drama

Reviews White Oleander

  • Faith-Anne
    If nothing else, read this book for the language. White Oleander reads like a poem. It's so beautifully crafted.
  • Janet
    Well, what was I supposed to rate it? I did work awfully hard on W.O.... still like it. Sad to think Oprah's book club is all over, it was quite an experience.
  • Crumb
    This was a masterful yarn about a complex relationship between mother and daughter. It was about the loss of self, the journey of finding oneself, and most importantly - the resilience of the human spirit. This wasn't a tale of any ordinary bond between mother and daughter, this was a story of the severe dysfunction that occurs when a mother, Ingrid, is imprisoned for murder and a daughter, Astrid, is passed around like garbage from one foster ho...
  • Christina White
    Dark, depressing, disturbing, and so beautiful! When the author described the August summer heat I felt it, like hot breath on my neck. I fell in love with Ingrid and her beauty and ideas of the world. Then I became Astrid, and I felt how much she loved her and how bad it hurt to also hate her, but hate Ingrid I did! I would walk away from long reading sessions feeling hardened and detached. It's not an easy read, but I find literature that can m...
  • Arah-Lynda
    This is Astrid’s story.We meet her first when she is twelve and in Ingrid’s (her mother) care.Ingrid is a woman of such rare, unearthly beauty as to be most likely found in dreams.Fitch describes her through Astrid’s eyes, gradually, poetically, using very sparse language, as the story unfolds, with words that sing, the pages glistening with the image reflected from her eyes.The Santa Anas blew in hot from the desert, shrivelling the last o...
  • Maxwell
    I have many thoughts that I'm having trouble putting into words. Before reading the final chapter of the book, I had to put it down, lean my head back against the couch and think about the experience I've had while reading this book. Astrid's journey, her development from girl to woman, is remarkably crafted. Fitch's writing paints the arid desert and mountain brush in such fine detail. Atmospherically, this story was superb. I was totally immers...
  • Matt
    this is a horrifying book, not necessarily for the story's content (which IS horrifying), but for it's plot, execution, characterization, and particularly its overcooked writing. some observations: 1) astrid. the novel's protagonist, a fourteen year old girl, is a thoroughly contradictory character. some people have written that astrid is not your 'average' teenage girl and that she is 'gifted.' if she were such a girl, i would expect much more o...
  • Joe Valdez
    After reading her scorching short story in Los Angeles Noir, I smoked a cigarette (I don't smoke), napped and reached for a novel by Janet Fitch. Round 2 is White Oleander, which Oprah's Book Club made a sweepstakes winner at the time of its publication in 1999 and for good reason. This is fiction at its most intoxicating, with boozy prose but also beautifully woven narrative, without a single lull in story or a character who fails to make a mark...
  • Jessica
    There must be a reason why I've been able to recall many of the books I've read over the years, but that it took me until one of my most restless and procrastibatory nights in front of the blank Word doc to dredge this one up from the recesses of memory, even though I read it within the past year or two.I'm pretty sure I know what that reason is, too: it's because on some level I'm embarrassed that I read this book, and that I actually really lik...
  • Luffy
    I am appalled by the worldview presented in this book. Yet the circumstances surrounding Ingrid, a poetess who goes to prison for murder are so artificial!I don't want to squirm when I'm reading, and I read for pleasure. Is there a market for books like this? Of course there is. And I've got nothing against people who like this book. But should they lap it up like it's licorice?The book is also about foster homes and what can go wrong. I just don...
  • Vanessa
    What exquisite writing, never have I read a book that speaks so beautifully but also describes pain so acutely. Astrid becomes a ward of the state after her mother commits a crime of passion and is imprisoned. Although her mother is behind bars, Astrid cannot shake her mother's deep hold on her. Her mother, beautiful Nordic Ingrid Magnussen. A true seductress a woman who can weave a web of destruction with her beauty, poetry and words, people fal...
  • Johann (jobis89)
    “If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you'll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way.”Ingrid Magnusson is sent to jail for the murder of her ex-boyfriend, leaving her daughter, Astrid, to enter the foster care system.White Oleander is pure poetry. The writing is absolutely exquisite - it’s one of those bo...
  • Elizabeth
    White Oleander follows the story of Astrid, a young girl who is shuttled from one foster home to another while her mother serves a life sentence in prison.I'm reading this for the second time, and it remains one of my favourite books ever. It is as beautiful and dreamy as it is bleak and raw. The Los Angeles setting is gorgeous, blissful, and yet terribly unforgiving. I was so totally immersed in this story from start to finish, and I would think...
  • Helene Jeppesen
    Wow, this is a BEAUTIFUL MASTERPIECE and an intelligent and heartbreaking, true and honest story. When I was about 100 pages into the book, I already knew that this was going to be a new favourite of mine. Now that I've finished it, I can honestly say that this is one of the most raw books I've ever read. What strikes me the most about this story is the impeccable writing style. The main character, Astrid, tells the story in a very impressionisti...
  • Michael
    Gritted my teeth to get through this and see what happened. The story itself is interesting, but the writing was so fussy and melodramatically overwrought that I wanted to toss the book away. Kept going only because I wanted to understand people's strong response to it.
  • Debbie
    This is some of the most beautiful writing I've ever encountered. It reminds me a little bit of Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype. It's language is deep and satisfying. The mother daughter relationship told in an almost mythical way. Loved it!
  • Pedro
    In the early 2000’s I was reading lots of books from the public library. I read all kinds of fiction. I read a lot of crap. Books I can’t even mention, and so many I can’t remember. Ah, but I remembered White Oleander all these years. Fourteen, to be precise. How I thought about this book at the most random and crazy times. How I thought about that beautiful writing through the years. I knew I needed to read it again. The time has come and ...
  • Megan
    My aunt bought me this book for Christmas one year and at first I was really disappointed. I thought "Oh, that's nice... because I like to read you just got me the Oprah book club book of the month... thanks." But then I read it, and I'm now convinced that my aunt knows me better than maybe many of my close friends or better than I know myself. Not to be all cheesy and over-identify with something that isn't about me; but this book REALLY hit hom...
  • Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
    I had heard previously how good/bad this book is. Most people have been powerfully affected by it. They either really liked it or really disliked it. After reading it, I could see how it could sway you in either ways. You could either take the story at face value and be swayed by it, as I did, or you could critically analyze it and call upon its credibility.My opinionJanet Fitch writes White Oleander in a very eloquent style. Poetic writing is no...
  • Rebecca
    Man, that Oprah knows how to pick ’em! This was a terrific read; I’m not sure why I’d never gotten to it before. I read huge chunks during my travel to the States and then slowed down quite a bit, which was a shame because it meant I felt less connected to Astrid’s later struggles in the foster care system. It’s an atmospheric novel full of oppressive Los Angeles heat and a classic noir flavor that shades into gritty realism as it goes ...
  • Lisa Vegan
    It took me forever to sit down and write this review. I never wait this long after finishing a book to post some sort of review. I’ve just given up and realized it’s impossible for me to do justice to the book. It’s a full 5 star rating from me, though not (yet?) on my favorites shelf, maybe because the ending seemed a bit truncated/rushed to me; I wanted to know a bit more.This one wrecked me, it wiped me out, it was gut wrenching. I loved...
  • Skye
    Exquisite, provocative, melodious novel spun by author Janet Fitch, artistic with the English language. White Oleander is an epoch/pastoral poem in the guise of a novel, a Romantic's dream, a Metaphysical masterpiece and yet underneath the beauty of language lies a gritty, edgy story of pain, lost hope, longing, desire and need; it is a journey of redemption often meeting with despair, broken glass and scars; it is a voyage of self-discovery and ...
  • Britany
    White Oleander packs a powerful punch to your emotional psyche. Almost as soon as I started this book, I was swept away by the writing. Astrid Magnussan- just a beautiful wisp of a newly minted teenager watches as her mom spirals downward and loses control, ending up in prison. Astrid finds herself in Foster care and the story takes us on the path that soon defines Astrid's life. Home after home, fancy prostitues, starvation, to suicidal thoughts...
  • Cat
    Due in part, perhaps, to the influx of "unfortunate teenage girl" novels in the mid-to-late nineties (I think here of books like _She's Come Undone_ and _The Virgin Suicides_), I avoided Fitch's book for a while (the Oprah's Book Club stigma also contributed). And while the story line did manage to keep me up and at it until 2 am last night, I must say: I'm unconvinced. Also, spoilers. I don't review books to keep them a secret from people who ha...
  • Niya
    This is my all time favorite book. I love the character Astrid, and enjoyed seeing her played by Alison Lohman in the movie. I wish there were more books like this one.
  • Ananda
    I can't forget her story. It's like an etching tatooed on the center of my brain. Her pain is my pain, her fears are my fears, her life...becomes mine. I take every word from her illustrated existance, using it as a bible to crawl through this enraged wilderness where the grass is made of needles, the trees are crawling with serpants, and the water is too tainted to drink.... I taste the saltiness of her tears as they stream down her face, burnin...
  • Kelly
    I only wish there were a star less than one. I wish I could remove stars. I wish there were a star deficit rating.This book almost made me give up reading all together. It is definitely the last book I trusted from Oprah. I still think she owes me money and those days of my life back. It was page after page of the most depressing writing I've ever read with absolutely no pay off.
  • Madeline
    Janet Fitch has an amazing gift for writing novels centered around protagonists that are flawed and scarred, while at the same time making her audience identify with and even love these characters because of their imperfections. Take Astrid, the main character of White Oleander. At the beginning of the story, Astrid's mother goes to jail for poisoning an ex-boyfriend and Astrid is placed in a series of foster homes. During the course of the story...
  • Rebecca McNutt
    Gripping from the beginning to the end, White Oleander is destined to become a classic and there are definitely none like it out there. :)
  • Chloe
    I am normally exceedingly wary of anything that Oprah puts her mark on and avoid it like the plague. However, after years of being recommended this book by many people who's opinions on such things I respect I finally pulled it off the bookshelf. Let me be the first to tell you: I have never been more appreciative of my friends. This book was phenomenal! Following the trials and tribulations of one Astrid Magnusson, the book takes you first from ...