White Oleander by Janet Fitch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
"This was how girls left. They packed up their suitcases and walked away in high heels."
"It reminded me that there were snakes that stunned their prey with their breath."
"Crickets stroke their legs like pool players lining up shots."
Many years ago, I first watched White Oleander and decided that I would someday be a foster parent. The movie had such an impact on me and has stayed with me through the years.
How poetic and perfect it is that now is when I chose to read this book. My wife and I are currently learning more information about potentially adopting or fostering a child. This book is exactly what I needed at this time.
Astrid is 14 years old when her mother, a poet, is sent to prison for murder. Astrid is sent to her own prison - foster care. In the years that follow, Astrid bounces from one foster house to the next, thanks to a combination of bad decisions and even worse luck. The things she goes through are unimaginable and heartbreaking.
The writing in this novel is so unexpectedly lovely that it is what really drives it forward. The dark and tragic events that take place are a stark contrast to the quiet, lyrical writing style utilized by Fitch. The imagery and descriptions are so magical that they will punch you right in the gut. I'm the type of reader that is very plot-driven. Typically, novels like this with long, flowery descriptions tend to bore me and I find myself skipping over whole paragraphs. Not here. I was hanging onto every letter.
I absolutely loved this work. This isn't the kind of book that you will love so much that you want to scream it from the mountains and throw it at everyone you know until they start reading it. It's the kind of soft, quiet heartbreak that you want to hide under your pillow and cherish.
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