White Oleander Review


So I’ve had a relatively normal life. Throw in being a very young museum manager and teaching high schoolers in Hungary and you get a little bit of intrigue. I have never intensively thought of what it would be like to have a life that was marked by tragedy. And not tragedy in the sense of one or two events. But something that kept reminding you of your abnormality and that you were never completely normal. I finished White Oleander by Janet Fitch. That girl could not catch a break. She was pretty much born into a tragedy. Her mother didn’t want her. Crap, her mother left her for a year. Who does that?

Okay, let’s talk about the mother because I have a huge issue with the mother. And I know there’s going to be people that are going to think that because I’m not a mother, I have no right in how someone raises their child. But before you tell me that, read this book. I don’t care if there were situations, you become an adult and take care of your child. There was an interview with the author at the end of the book. Fitch said that Ingrid came first in the book and was the protagonist of the book. That definitely is no more. Ingrid was more of the antagonist in the book. Probably THE antagonist of the book. She’s the one that couldn’t handle being dumped and seeing her ex with another woman, she couldn’t handle being a mother. Ingrid could not handle anything. But she was remarkable with words. She is so praised in the book for being a genius poet. If she was such a genius with words, how did she get into jail? Couldn’t she have worked her magic during trial? It took 9 years to get her out. That’s a long time. She should have stayed there. She did Astrid no good. Even her letters didn’t do Astrid any good. What would have been the smart thing to do was if she went to jail she would have stayed out of Astrid’s life. Realize how bad you are for her and step away. You’re in jail for heaven’s sake. There’s something wrong with that.

Now that I had my rant on Ingrid, we can move on to Astrid. For most of the book I felt for her. Other parts of the book, I didn’t. There were even times where I thought to myself, how does a 12 year-old know such things? I never was consistent with my feelings towards Astrid. There were times where I didn’t feel bad for her and was really okay with her getting kicked out of her foster home. I know have rules of foster care. Like, don’t sleep with foster dad when you’re 14…or ever. When your foster mom thinks it’s okay to go meet your poet mother, it’s not. It will go badly. Don’t do tricks for drugs, that ends badly too, though you don’t think so at the time. I think I am too old to be in foster care, but I have rules now if I were. I feel like with the mother she had, Astrid was going to have problems no matter what. Even if Ingrid never killed that guy, Astrid was going to have troubles because Ingrid had problems. Ingrid was not a good parent.

I am glad that Astrid finished high school. It was something for to work for and I feel like with her and her personality, it would have been so easy for her to have quit. I was disappointed that she after that one foster home that Astrid didn’t try more or have the motivation for it. I would have been crushed by that suicide but would have thought that it was such a big thing to the foster mom, I’d want to honor her memory with doing well. But not me. I also kind of wanted her to go to art school. I guess I see why not. She barely had motivation for high school, how much more motivation could college hold, even if it was art school? I do like she met her dad in the end just so she had closure. She wanted a dad the whole entire book and she didn’t necessarily get one but she knew where her real one was. I also like she got some stable relationships at the end. Well, I shouldn’t say stable. Those girls at the last foster home didn’t seem quite stable to me. But she did get the boyfriend and had a nice ending to her story.


About frustratedreader

I'm just an average 20 something female that loses myself in a good book. Life has gotten hectic trying to balance small town living, working towards teaching overseas, finding that special someone and figuring out how life is supposed to work post-college. Thank God for books and knitting!

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