White Oleander

by Janet Fitch | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0316284955 Global Overview for this book
Registered by hathyia on 9/17/2003
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9 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by hathyia on Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Wonderful book!!!! Janet Fitch is a wonderful author-her use of similes and metaphors is amazing. We have Ingrid, a narcisstic, over-the-top mother whose daughter, Astrid, worships her and hangs on her every word. Unfortunately, Ingrid feels the defenition of being a mother stopped at actually pushing her baby out, because Astrid is pretty much cast to the four winds. The only wisdom this so-called "mom" is interested in imparting to her precious daughter is in the form of poetry and prose-like speech- "never let a man stay the night; dawn has a way of casting a pall on any night magic". Excuse me? After Ingrid is arrested and charged with poisoning her lover (using the poisonous white oleander flowers that grow everywhere around them); Astrid is shuttled from one bogus foster home to another. She is shot at, gets mauled by a pit bull, kept in a home where the refridgerator is padlocked and the girls practically starve, and is forced to sell clothes for the foster "mom" in one house. Where's the beauty of the novel?, you may ask. Unbelievably, Astrid manages to find at least one piece of beauty and/or wisdom in each home she stays at and that, eventually, will educate and shape the woman she is to become. Ingrid writes to her from prison, telling her not to complain about her foster homes. "If they're not beating you, consider yourself lucky", she writes. Hmmmph. I found myself wishing they'd have given this selfish woman the chair. If the storyline doesn't sell you, believe me, Janet Fitch's fabulous writing will. Defenitely a book you'll want on your shelf for years to come.


Oprah Book Club® Selection, May 1999: Astrid Magnussen, the teenage narrator of Janet Fitch's engrossing first novel, White Oleander, has a mother who is as sharp as a new knife. An uncompromising poet, Ingrid despises weakness and self-pity, telling her daughter that they are descendants of Vikings, savages who fought fiercely to survive. And when one of Ingrid's boyfriends abandons her, she illustrates her point, killing the man with the poison of oleander flowers. This leads to a life sentence in prison, leaving Astrid to teach herself the art of survival in a string of Los Angeles foster homes.

As Astrid bumps from trailer park to tract house to Hollywood bungalow, White Oleander uncoils her existential anxieties. "Who was I, really?" she asks. "I was the sole occupant of my mother's totalitarian state, my own personal history rewritten to fit the story she was telling that day. There were so many missing pieces." Fitch adroitly leads Astrid down a path of sorting out her past and identity. In the process, this girl develops a wire-tight inner strength, gains her mother's white-blonde beauty, and achieves some measure of control over their relationship. Even from prison, Ingrid tries to mold her daughter. Foiling her, Astrid learns about tenderness from one foster mother and how to stand up for herself from another. Like the weather in Los Angeles--the winds of the Santa Anas, the scorching heat--Astrid's teenage life is intense. Fitch's novel deftly displays that, and also makes Astrid's life meaningful. --Katherine Anderson

Journal Entry 2 by hathyia on Thursday, September 25, 2003
Bookring is when a book passes from person to person based on the list of members involved. A bookring book is never released into the wild since it should end up back with the person who registered it.

To join this bookring (or any other bookring ) please private message me and include your location and shipping preference (US only, international, etc.). I will be glad to add you to the list. New members are added all of the time so be sure to check the list of participants before you mail the book to the next in line just in case it's changed since you got the book.

Once you are a bookring member, you will receive the book from the person listed before you. When you receive the book please make a journal entry stating that you’ve received it. Then read it as soon as you can (no absolute hurry, just be reasonable please), and journal again with your thoughts, ideas, or opinions on it. You’ll then need to private message the person on the list after you for their address. Mail the book by media mail (it’s cheaper!) and make a release note so that we can track it. Then sit back and watch the journey continue!

Journal Entry 3 by hathyia on Thursday, September 25, 2003
Bookring list- White Oleander:

1. Gilli (Australia)
2. Felicia-fairy (Australia)
3. fio-dagua (Portugal)
4. Starry-starry (UK)
5. loopy1 (UK)
6. raquelsita (US)
7. tsmith51632 (US)
8. tootshelling (US)

------> Back to ME...

Please don't forget to PM the next person in the list... HAPPY READING GUYS!!!

Journal Entry 4 by hathyia at on Thursday, October 2, 2003
Released on Saturday, September 27, 2003 at Post Office - Bandar Sri Damansara in Bandar Sri Damansara, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

On its way to Gilli - AUSTRALIA

Journal Entry 5 by Gilli on Friday, October 3, 2003
Arrived today and am very much loking forward to reading it. Thanks and I will pass on asap.


Journal Entry 6 by Gilli on Saturday, October 11, 2003
Wow, what a great read. I managed to devour this book in a week and I loved it. I love all of the characters. I felt sorry for Astrid and I thought that Ingrid was a real piece of work. I thought that no matter how hard Astrid tried she was still under this spell her mother put on her. What a great tale of a young girl trying to find herself and to come to terms with the life she now had to live.

Wonderful read. I hope Felicia-fairy enjoys it as much as me.

Journal Entry 7 by Gilli at -- Controlled Releases -- in Perth City, Western Australia Australia on Sunday, October 12, 2003
Release planned for Monday, October 13, 2003 at Local Post Office in Perth, Western Australia Australia.

On its way now to Felicia-fairy. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Journal Entry 8 by emmafiles from Murrumba Downs, Queensland Australia on Thursday, October 23, 2003
Thanks to Gilli for sending me this one! I will start reading it tonight... looks great!

Journal Entry 9 by emmafiles from Murrumba Downs, Queensland Australia on Thursday, October 23, 2003
Started reading this one last night. Was pleasantly suprised, I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I am! Will send it off to fio-dagua as soon as I am finished.

Journal Entry 10 by emmafiles from Murrumba Downs, Queensland Australia on Sunday, October 26, 2003
I just devoured this book over the weekend.
It was so beautiful, and sad, and did what a good book should do - take you to other worlds where all kinds of amazing things happen.
Thanks to hathyia for starting this ring....
sending to fio-dagua today, enjoy :)

Journal Entry 11 by fio-dagua from Porto - City, Porto Portugal on Tuesday, November 18, 2003
arrived today! thanks a lot! =)

Journal Entry 12 by emmafiles from Murrumba Downs, Queensland Australia on Thursday, November 20, 2003
To be honest I was starting to get a little worried about how long the shipping took on this! So happy it arrived - enjoy!

Journal Entry 13 by fio-dagua from Porto - City, Porto Portugal on Friday, December 5, 2003
I'm loving it!.. beautiful writing.

Journal Entry 14 by fio-dagua at on Sunday, January 4, 2004
Release planned for Monday, January 05, 2004 at caixa de correio in estação dos CTT, Envio Postal/Postal release Portugal.

Journal Entry 15 by Starry-Starry from Llandrindod Wells, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, January 7, 2004
Received today, thanks fio-dagua and hathyia. Looks very interesting, looking forward to reading it. Will start it when I have finished my current book.

Journal Entry 16 by fio-dagua from Porto - City, Porto Portugal on Monday, January 12, 2004

the book is traveling without the card that was inside of it... i'm sorry hathyia, but i lost it somehow..

Journal Entry 17 by Starry-Starry from Llandrindod Wells, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, January 14, 2004
As I read the first few pages of this book, I wasn't sure I was going to like it. As others here have commented, Ingrid is extremely selfish and I don't like reading about this type of character, but I presevered and I'm glad I did. Janet Fitch's writing is gorgeous, I don't think there was a superfluous word in the book.

The characters are magnificent and revealed through a tightly woven plot. Astrid in particular is intriguing, although the book is written from her POV, I don't think I actually got to know her all that well. I'm sure this was deliberate. She is very complex and the little hints of her life before the murder only served to show just how much she hides from everyone, even the reader.

It is a compelling read. Thanks Hathyia for sharing, I'll post it onto Loopy1 tomorrow.

Journal Entry 18 by loopy1 from Herne Bay, Kent United Kingdom on Tuesday, January 20, 2004
The book arrived safely in Kent this morning, and I look forward to reading it! thanks to all who went before.

Journal Entry 19 by loopy1 from Herne Bay, Kent United Kingdom on Saturday, January 31, 2004
This book made me think a lot about motherhood and childhood. My first reaction was to blame Astrid's experiences on fosterhood, but then I realised that part of the blame has to go on her mother and the child she was when she was first fostered.
The comment from Ingrid got me: "You cannot find the beginning of the chain that brought us from there to here. Should you regret the whole chain, and the air in between, or each link separately, as if you could uncouple them? Do you regret the beginning which ended so badly, or just the ending itself?"
I'll be contacting the next reader to send this on. Thanks for sharing :-)

Journal Entry 20 by raquelsita from Camarillo, California USA on Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Just got delivered to me today. Yippee! I was afraid it would take a really long time to get here from the UK, and that I might be gone when it got here. I'll start reading right away, especially since I will be traveling for work next week!

Journal Entry 21 by emmafiles from Murrumba Downs, Queensland Australia on Friday, February 20, 2004
I finally rented out the movie last night. It has nothing on the book, (do they ever?) but is a great film nonetheless.
It mainly served to remind me how much I enjoyed the novel!

Hope everyone is enjoying the book.

Journal Entry 22 by raquelsita from Camarillo, California USA on Wednesday, March 3, 2004
Wow! I just finished reading last night. I have to say that at first I did not like the writing style...all the short sentences. But about half way through the book I got completely sucked in. I spent the past few nights up past midnight reading, having to tear myself away to go to bed.

I was intrigued by the hold that Ingrid had over Astrid and her ability to control people, even while in prison. I cannot imagine having, or really wanting, that kind of power and using it to manipulate people. I was also touched by Astrid's struggles with the numerous foster homes. My boyfriend is a social worker so this part of the story touched me. Although I know the book is fiction, I also know there are foster parents like that out there, who use the kids, torture them, make their lives hell. I just don't understand how you can do that to a child. It's amazing any kid in the foster system survives and makes it out with confidence, self esteem, and a feeling of worth.

I am looking forward to renting the movie to see how they story is portrayed, and what parts they changed or left out completely. I have PMed the next reader for their address and will send out once I have it.

Journal Entry 23 by raquelsita from Camarillo, California USA on Thursday, March 18, 2004
I am extending the bookray to give the last two people on the list more time to get through their TBR piles. The book will go to:

gypsyrose02- Australia
sunisunny - France
clawdette- US
tsmith51632- US
tootshelling- US

As always, please PM the next person in line when you get the book to get their address, and make a journal entry.


Journal Entry 24 by gypsyrose02 from Byford, Western Australia Australia on Tuesday, May 18, 2004
received this yesterday (tuesday may 18th) from raquelsita as part of bookray. have been looking forward to reading this for awhile. will get it read asap and then sent on its merry little way.

Journal Entry 25 by gypsyrose02 from Byford, Western Australia Australia on Tuesday, May 25, 2004
what a great book. i loved this. i kept worrying everytime astrid had to move homes. i was worried that she was going to leave behind or lose, all her beautiful, sentimental things such as hers mums books, the wooden box ray made her and the jewellery from claire. but she still had it all at the end.
on its way to sunisunny in france.

Journal Entry 26 by sunisunny from Strasbourg, Alsace France on Sunday, June 27, 2004
Got back from holidays a few days ago... This one arrived in the pile of new books while I was away. Will get down to it as soon as I can.
Thank you!

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