Saturday, 24 August 2019

Book Review: White Oleander by Janet Fitch

Ingrid Magnusson is sent to jail for the murder of her ex-boyfriend, leaving her daughter, Astrid, to enter the foster care system.

“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.”
White Oleander is pure poetry. The writing is absolutely exquisite - it’s one of those books where you keep pausing just to inhale really moving and poignant prose. I would happily read anything else Janet Fitch has written/will write, as she has blown me away!

The mother/daughter relationship between Ingrid and Astrid is complex, flawed and difficult. The influence that one person can hold over you is quite scary - even though Ingrid is in prison, she still exerts this weird control over Astrid from afar. Her relationship with her mother is something that Astrid struggles with, as well as the lack of a father during her youth. Fitch handles these themes and topics with a deft hand, I really didn’t want this one to end.

Following Astrid through a sequence of different foster homes is really heartbreaking, but each new home brings vibrant and strong characters, each with their own issues. Claire in particular was a standout for me, I loved the relationship that formed between her and Astrid, even though Claire herself was also a fragile soul.

I would 100% recommend this to anyone who loves reading about complicated family dynamics, in particular the frayed relationship that can exist between mothers and daughters. This book was fantastic!

I’m also still fangirling over the fact that Fitch messaged me personally on goodreads to say she enjoyed reading my reviews and was looking forward to reading more! I’ll mark that down as one of my greatest bookish moments! 4.5 stars.


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