Monday, March 30, 2015

white oleander

I haven't written a book review on here in a while, but upon completion of Janet Fitch's White Oleander I felt compelled to share the beauty of this book with others. I started this one the train to the airport before we left for our cruise and finished before we got on the boat to leave (roughly 8 or 9 hours total?) It's magnificent.

The story is about Ingrid and Astrid Magnussen, a mother and daughter who live by themselves, wandering from city to city living on Ingrid's meager earnings from writing poetry. Ingrid lives and breathes poetry, and at first, I found it unrealistic because of the way she spoke with such imagery and prose that you would only find within the pages of required reading for AP English. But that's just it- that's who she is. She's an artist, and it is eventually her downfall. After committing a crime which lands her in jail, Astrid is placed in foster care and the rest of the novel tells of her experiences with different foster families and her relationship with her mother through these times.

The strength of this novel is definitely its prose. There were numerous lines and passages I re-read, not because I didn't understand, but because I found them so beautiful and/or haunting. I felt very deeply for Astrid and quickly latched onto her as a protagonist, but found myself harboring a twisted curiosity and admiration for her crazy and beautiful mother, Ingrid. This book is a story of triumph, heartbreak, femininity, love found and lost. I wanted to pace myself while reading and make it last longer, but couldn't because I had to know what would happen next, and that is one of the trademarks of a fantastic book. Warning: this is part of Oprah's book club, but don't let it steer you away! It's very #dark and cooler than most Oprah books. (Sidenote: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is also part of Oprah's book club and one of my favorite books and authors)
And I tried not to make it worse by asking for things, pulling her down with my thoughts. I had seen girls clamor for new clothes and complain about what their mothers made for dinner. I was always mortified. Didn't they know they were tying their mothers to the ground? Weren't chains ashamed of their prisoners? --These lines are the perfect demonstration of Astrid's fierce loyalty to her mother at the beginning of the story and how her relationship and worship of her mother changes throughout the novel.

They were too young and undamaged, sure of themselves. To them, pain was a country they had heard of, maybe watched a show about on TV, but one whose stamp had not yet been made in their passports. --Such a beautiful metaphor. This is Astrid speaking about her classmates, ironically when she is in middle school and not much older than the girls she's talking about.

I was tired of men. Men who...made you love them and changed their minds. --Paraphrased this one so as not to reveal too much of the story, but loved that last line 'cause what girl hasn't felt that way amirite

It's such a liability to love another person, but in here, it's like playing catch with grenades. --Favorite line in the entire book. Written in a letter from Ingrid to Astrid while she's in prison. Chilllls.

So if you're looking for a #dark, easy read that's hard to put down (highly recommend for trips, although it's a little bulky) I suggest White Oleander. Prepare to feel.

1 comment:

  1. have wanted to read this since I saw the movie forever ago (good!) and now I amm going to thanks for the reminder :) :)