Sunday, May 13, 2018

Review of White Oleander by Janet Fitch

White Oleander White Oleander by Janet Fitch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Janet Fitch does her job as an author. She makes a reader care about her characters, and in this story, it's Astrid Magnussen (12 y.o.). From the opening scene, we are swept into White Oleander on a gale-force wind.

"Oleander time," she [Ingrid] said. "Lovers who kill each other now will blame it on the wind."

It is Fitch's precision with the music of language (studied from such greats as Neruda) that implodes in a reader's brain, in a perfect setup for all that follows. Astrid tap dances on fears inspired by her seemingly impossible to pin down self-serving mother. Desire, expectations, trust, abandonment, determination are examined, torn asunder, and reconfigured as Astrid's bones are broken, her life is upended, and we journey with her as she becomes a ward of the state. When Ingrid is on trial for murder, Astrid's life changes via the foster homes spent during her teenage years. A great read for anyone who loves a twisted story and stellar prose.

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