White Oleander by Janet Fitch

I’ve been reading some pretty great stories written by women lately.

White Oleander by Janet Fitch hands down has some of the best writing and storytelling that I’ve ever read. It’s so lyrical and each line felt so purposeful and important to the story.

This is such a crazy story on the surface. A woman murdering her ex-lover and her child having to deal with the consequences and ending up in so many horrible situations completely out of her control.

I thought that the mother in The Glass Castle was terrible, but this mother really takes the cake. It’s really hard to accept that redemption Astrid gives her at the end, and makes you kind of sad for her.

This book really accurately shows the different dynamics between mothers and daughters with each of the women who come into her life. Her own mother seemed to think that she owned Astrid. That she was just another one of her creations that she could shape into whatever she wanted her to be, and was shocked when Astrid ended up as someone she didn’t recognize.

Starr showed how there can be jealousy with having another woman around a man who isn’t her father. Even though Astrid was a child, she was beautiful in a way that Starr felt challenged by and she couldn’t handle it. Astrid definitely didn’t do herself any favors sleeping with Ray, so she kind of asked for the trouble in this situation.

Claire was the real loving, overbearing, needy mother that Astrid ended up having to take care of. She was so fragile, but so nice in comparison to the women that Astrid had been with before.

Rena was probably the best at helping her realize that she didn’t need to hold on to all of these experiences and people. She could let go and live her own life and do what was best for her.

I really loved the interest in art and poetry throughout the entire story. Creative people always seem like they’re the most interesting, and I’ve always been attracted to that lifestyle, even though I know I could never actually live like that.

I had to keep reminding myself that this was a fictional story. I would never wish this life on anyone and I realize that there are probably so many children who go through situations way worst than this with their actual parents and in foster homes, but I kept thinking of Astrid as this real person who was able to grow and overcome so much, which is inspiring. I’m glad that she isn’t real and didn’t have to deal with this, but these situations are real and make me sad for the children that have to go through them. I hope that they are able to find peace with their lives like she did in this story.

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