White Oleander by Janet Fitch (review by Sarisha K. ’17)

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

White Oleander, a riveting drama about self-discovery in a life fraught hardships, is a book so enchanting and so harshly honest, it touches the heart. The story follows Astrid Magnussen, a young girl who’s poet/artist mother, Ingrid, is her only influence and her idol, until Ingrid is jailed for the murder of her boyfriend. Astrid is thrown into the chaotic and often horrifying foster system, and finds that the art of survival is one she has to learn entirely on her own. As she is pushed from one foster home to another, each with its own troubles, Astrid discovers a world of injustice, and yet, also a world with small blessings. She learns to see the duel natures in humans, and the true colors of her mother, whose ethereal beauty and sharp intelligence is marred by a vindictive, self-righteous streak. White Oleander, the debut novel by Janet Fitch, proves that storytelling is not just entertainment, it’s an art. The characters and the descriptions are all built up with such effortlessly beautiful prose that it’s impossible to not fall entirely in love with White Oleander. – Sarisha K. ‘17

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