What is white oleander about
White Oleander by Janet FitchEverywhere hailed as a novel of rare beauty and power, White Oleander tells the unforgettable story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder, and her daughter, Astrid, whose odyssey through a series of Los Angeles foster homes--each its own universe, with its own laws, its own dangers, its own hard lessons to be learned--becomes a redeeming and surprising journey of self-discovery.
White Oleander Summary & Study Guide
Astrid is a twelve-year-old girl who lives with her beautiful mother, Ingrid, a poet. Her mother is the kind of beauty who turns people's heads. Ingrid sees herself as a Valkyrie who would rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven. She sees herself stronger and tries to live her life in simple elegance. Astrid's delicate balance crumbles when her mother falls in love with Barry Kolker, who is the type of man Ingrid deems unworthy of her. When Barry, after wooing her and slipping into their lives, drops her without warning, Ingrid becomes quite psychotic, resulting in his murder. While her mother is in prison, Astrid has the first-hand experience of the foster care system.
If anyone tries to tell you that "White Oleander," the movie adaptation of Janet Fitch's highly successful first novel, is a moving story about growth, redemption and self-discovery, don't buy it -- no picture as entertaining as this one deserves to be saddled with those Oprahville catchphrases. But at its best it offers pleasures similar to those of s women's melodramas -- pictures in which the heroine, to borrow a line from Thelma Ritter in "All About Eve," suffers everything but the hound dogs yapping at her rear end. In "White Oleander," it's a sensible but troubled young girl named Astrid Alison Lohman who's suffering these trials and tribulations, which include a crazed, jealous foster mom with a gun, and a real mom who's more dangerous even without a gun. Astrid's mother, Ingrid Michelle Pfeiffer , is a charismatic but intensely controlling woman who's serving a jail sentence for killing her deceitful boyfriend. She's also an artist, of the stripe who think they're a superior species -- she doesn't come right out and say it, but in her mind, there's no reason she shouldn't get away with murder. Before Ingrid lands in jail, though, we're given a glimpse of the tenuously harmonious relationship she and Astrid have built in their artsy but sparely tasteful Southern California home.
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Janet Fitch has specifically structured the novel so that the time Astrid spends in each location is weighted differently. Astrid spends between one year and eighteen months in three of her foster homes Starr, Ed and Marvel and Claire which amounts to approximately four chapters at each location. However, this time which Astrid spends with Claire- probably the most sustained period of positivity- is surrounded by individual chapters of intense experiences. Astrid spends chapter fifteen with Amelia who treats her foster girls as slaves and denies them food. Had Fitch devoted more of the novel to this situation, the reader may have begun to lose hope for Astrid.