Thanks to Savannah Morin for this guest blog post.
White Oleander is the story of just how complicated, awful and unpredictable youth can be. Astrid is a young teenager with a different sort of Mother; a poet. A painstakingly beautiful, brilliant and convoluted woman, Ingrid, teaches Astrid to think for herself, that loneliness is the human condition and the most awful thing in the world is to be ordinary. Like most young girls, Astrid is fascinated with her mother and only wants to please her.
Then the unthinkable happens; Ingrid falls in love with a man. She no longer is in control, and when it starts to turn sour, Ingrid carries out a revenge on the man that she doesn’t get away with. Convicted of murder for life or longer, Ingrid and Astrid are immediately separated. Astrid is taken into child services; the world known to raise so many troubled children who turn into troubled adults.
Follow Astrid through her tale of broken homes that gives a whole new meaning to dysfunctional lifestyle. Meet Starr, the recovering alcoholic who has found Jesus in her skin tight mini dresses and bodacious body, and her boyfriend Ray; the man who started it all for Astrid. These two are just the starting of a colourful array of characters to come in and out of Astrid’s troubled childhood, which includes violence, sex, drugs, death, but also love, discovery, art and a different sort of freedom.
Astrid is exposed to all levels of the social spectrum. She meets people and latches on, desperate for real attention from a woman. In all her foster homes Astrid finds pieces of a mother she didn’t know she needed. See what happens when a too beautiful young girl finds out how to use her beauty for what she wants. Discover Astrid’s obsession with being beautiful, ugly and normal, wanted and loved.
White Oleander is a painfully beautiful story I love to read again and again. It is so original but completely believable, Astrid’s tale tells of many all over this world who have suffered without their own parents. The pain and anger they feel towards their real parents and the attachment they make to anyone who shows them how it is to be a real child. I highly recommend if you want a topsy-turvy look at youth, a different way of life and a struggle that is so genuine and fascinating that you can’t put it down because you want to know what Astrid’s next thoughts and adventures will be. Janet Fitch’s first published novel is a knock out and should be read by all woman; young and old.