Customer Reviews for

White Oleander

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

This book was so good!

This book was amazing! It was so much better than the movie! Compared to the book, the movie was absolutely horrible. The characters were pretty much the same. I loved Astrid's strength and bravery throughout the entire book. Even though her mother and other people kept...
This book was amazing! It was so much better than the movie! Compared to the book, the movie was absolutely horrible. The characters were pretty much the same. I loved Astrid's strength and bravery throughout the entire book. Even though her mother and other people kept putting her down, she got through it. I felt like I was Astrid the entire book and it made me sad and a little depressed. I wish things like what Astrid went through never happen. It's just not fair.

posted by MaggieMcKickButt on October 21, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Very good :)

The book was very lyrical and i loved the range of description as well. It's not the same as the book but it is worth reading for sure!

posted by Anonymous on February 19, 2012

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  • Posted October 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This book was so good!

    This book was amazing! It was so much better than the movie! Compared to the book, the movie was absolutely horrible. The characters were pretty much the same. I loved Astrid's strength and bravery throughout the entire book. Even though her mother and other people kept putting her down, she got through it. I felt like I was Astrid the entire book and it made me sad and a little depressed. I wish things like what Astrid went through never happen. It's just not fair.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 1999

    Bookclub's four thumbs up

    After several months of books that none of us liked, this was a unanimous winner among our members, creating a great deal of lively discussion. Ceratinly, all of us had thoughts on our own parentage after reading this book, and lacking though we may have found some of our own experiences, they certainly paled by comparison to those of the main character! Other topics discussed- what makes one a surivvor in this world ( and what percentage of the world are true survivors?); the dichotomy of surface beauty vs. intrinsic (or internal) evil; the stages of life awareness experienced by the main character in each of her foster homes; the psychology of each foster mom (or foster situation), and what goodness/pathology/life lessons, etc, could be gleaned from each The list goes on- there were more potential discussions than we had time for over dinner!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2011

    Beautiful but disturbing

    Very much in the line of Little Alters Everywhere and Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood. Damaged daughters, controlling, mentally ill mothers. And how much we need our mothers even when they destroy our lives. I doubt that I will re-read this book, but I'm glad I read it once.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 3, 2009

    Good book

    The story is phenominal. The feelings felt real. The characters felt true. And I was hooked pretty much throughout the book. However, I just found it difficult to finish the last 50+ pages or so. I guess I just wished for a different ending. But ultimately, I would read another Oprah's Book Club recommendation.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2011

    Deadly amazing.

    White Oleander was a heart-tugging story about a young girl as she struggles to grow and survive in a series of foster homes, after her mother murders her ex-boyfriend. Throughout the book Janet Fitch uses realistic situations in which a foster child might find themselves, giving deep insight into how horrid that kind of life could be. The girl, called Astrid, attempts to find herself among the endless sea of faces and acts she's put on for her different homes, all while secretly yearning for her controlling and manipulative mother. The story will sweep you away in a current that refuses to let you catch your footing, and make you think of life in a completely different way than you have ever seen it before.


    The author successfully used several literary devices in this book, making it enjoyable as well as a beautifully written tale. She especially seemed fond of foreshadowing, similes, and symbolism. Here are a few examples:
    "I was not surviving in the turquoise house. I was letting my sails crust up with salt." Pg. 114

    "You couldn't stop it, Mother. I didn't have to listen to you anymore." Pg. 84

    "I arranged my things in shopping bags and slid them under the metal frame of the old-fashioned bed, all my artifacts. All the people I had been. It was like a graveyard under there." Pg. 273
    The author uses these devices to deliver a poetic form of the story, and also to create vivid imagery. By using these devices, she was able to construct White Oleander into a literature-rich novel that will influence even amateur writers, and have readers on the edge of their seats eager for more!

    The best part about the book was the entire plot. Not a lot of people are aware of what goes on in a foster child's life, and this book offers insight into a rougher kind of life that a foster child might have to go through. Even though you may end up feeling sorry for Astrid,(I felt myself near tears a couple times!) you want to keep reading more, to find out if she ever reaches that happy ending. It's engrossing, surprising, and simply amazing. While White Oleander was a stunning piece of work, it has a worse part to it, like all books. The worst part would have to be the small chapters that describe Astrid's stay in a house full of working girls. It adds to the story and struggle she goes through, but there isn't much character development, and there isn't really reference to the chapters later in the story. It seems more like page fillers than something that needs to be in the book. All the other chapters flow and connect to one another quite neatly, though.

    I would definitely recommend this book to anyone I happen to know, friend or otherwise. This book is full of morals and lessons that will be helpful and enjoyable to any person that decides to sit down and read this novel, and will stick with them for years to come. Not only did I like White Oleander; I adored it. I'm sure others will, too.

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  • Posted December 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This is a sad, realistic, but good book

    More than anything I appreciated how this book allowed me to look into the life and childhood of a girl in every way less fortunate than myself. She didn't have a loving mother or a stable home environment and that upbringing kept her from moving forward in life. It showed me the many ways that a person can be physically and emotionally abused and how that might affect them as adults. This book is capable of opening anyone's eyes to all the things they may take for granted about their family and their home life. I like that it had a positive message about how, despite a person's bad circumstances, they have the power to make their own future. At a certain point you have to forget the past, sever all negative connections, and forge a new path for yourself. In case you couldn't tell, this book is depressing, so if you're not up to reading something sad you should probably stay away.

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  • Posted February 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Just as goood if not better than the movie was.

    Janet Fitch did a great job of making the characters come to life in this book; they were so realistic that each character reminded me of someone I knew. She used a wide range of vocabulary words that had me grabbing my dictionary every few pages. Tbe book was melancholy and a bit touching through out. I would recommend this book to a friend or book club. It's also good to read on a rainy day.

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  • Posted May 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great reflective reading!

    As a parent this book made me reflect on parenting skills and the long term effect it can have on my offspring. So many times when life gives us 'lemons' we react without thinking about the consequences. When we become parents our children should always be in our plans. The world we create for them must be considered when we prefer to make the 'lemons disappear' than to make 'lemonade' instead.

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  • Posted May 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I liked the idea of the book

    In some ways I liked the idea of this book more the book. The ideas are interesting and strong but sometimes the prose itself gets a little self-consciously poetic and purple. It is the story of a young girl's life after her mother is imprisoned. The idea of following this girl is one I enjoyed thoroughly but the life of narrator can, at times get bogged down by melodrama and the purple prose I mentioned. For a more fierce looked at a young girl's life (a girl with a messed up mother) check out Billie Livingston's "Going Down Swinging."

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    White Oleander

    This was a little bizarre, but entertaining.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2008

    Very good book to read.

    This was a very good book to read,because it was about a girl going through several adoption homes, and it was quite dramatic. All her mothers had different personalities One was mean, One was tight,One was sweet and caring, and one was a teenager.I liked how she finally lived a good life with her boyfriend, and doing art which was her dream to do. Overall this was a very good book to read, and the vocabulary words were also easy to understand that's what I liked most about this book. I would encourage all of you on here to read this it's very good and it tells you what it's for a girl to go through an adoption process.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2008

    Great, Great book. Ending very weak.

    I enjoyed reading it but I found that the ending was quite a disapointment with the unconclusiveness of it all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2007

    Disturbing beauty

    Tales of family dysfunction fascinate me, probably because they remind me of my own. So that was the main reason for picking this novel. If you want great writing and a wonderful plot, WHITE OLEANDER is the place to be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2006

    White Oleander Book Review

    ¿The smell of ammonia was overwhelming in the small windowless bathroom, but Marvel wouldn¿t let me open the door. She didn¿t want Ed to know that she died her hair.¿ In this quote Astrid describes one of the scenes in her third foster home where, her mother treats her like a slave by making her cook, clean, and even die her hair for her. White Oleander written by Janet Fitch is an amazing book. Told from the eyes of a teenage girl, this mature and captivating story is about a girl, named Astrid, who is subjected to the bleak, blistering truth of what the real world is like at the very young age of 13. She also has an insane mother who is out of control. Just when she is given hope she is shot down by the reality of a .38 gun and everything good is taken away. Astrid is strong, but when the going gets tough, times can get the best of her. She is her own person, and she has feelings even though she is passed around like a bottle of water on a hot day. I like the way that as she goes to different foster homes, she tends to develop herself more, and find more out about herself. Astrid learns the art of survival and how to work people. She realizes many things that she probably wouldn¿t have if she had stayed with her mother who is in jail for killing a man. They write to each other but Astrid realizes that she is better off without her, and once she turns 18 she is out. This book really shows what life is like for teenagers growing up in foster homes and gives a good perspective to those of us who haven¿t experienced this type of lifestyle. It is a read that you will never forget and one that will have you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what this poor child is going to go through next.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2005

    'White Oleander' Review

    What a ride this book was! The characters, from Astrid herself to her truly evil mother to the bitter Claire, are unfogettable, as is the story. As said before, a MUST READ!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2005

    Great Book

    I thought this book was interesting and heart breaking. I felt so connected to Astrid. The author did a wonderful job of relaying things the way they really were. A++

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2005

    Definitely worth a read

    I found this book frustrating at times, but in the end, it was a great read. I haven't seen the movie, but now I do want to see it. Certainly not your 'feel good' book, but very well written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2005

    Read The Book, Ignore The Movie

    Its funny, because I have been hearing since I was very young that the book version is always better then the movie. Never is that more true then with White Oleander. I watched the film, which I did enjoy, before I got the chance to read the book. When I finally read it, I was blown away. Astrid is one of the strongest female characters I have ever read. Her story is a sad one, about neglect and the loss of innocence. I cried numerous times while reading this novel, yet I could not put it down. This book should be in English classrooms across the nation.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2005

    An interesting enlightening read

    This book was an interesting look into the foster care system in the U.S. The main character, Astrid, is raised in six different foster homes after her mother is convicted of murdering a boyfriend and sent to prison. The book was enjoyable, easy to read and highly original. I did find Astrid an interesting character, but some of the things she does in the book are disturbing and amoral. Astrid's mother is painted as a villain, but the apple does not fall too far from the tree.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2004

    So Moving but not in a feel good way!

    Awesome book that reeled me in. Definitely not a feel good book, but the story will stay with you.

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