Astrid was only a young girl when her mother, a talented yet dangerous poet, murdered a man who rejected her. White Oleander chronicles Astrid's life as she goes from foster home to foster home, tries to find her place in the world, and, ultimately forgive her mother.
White Oleander is a book filled with pain, feeling, and forgiveness. I found it to be a slow read, but a shocking one as well. Consequently, I wasn't always eager to continue reading because the story didn't have elements of suspense or mystery. The book felt right, though. Action and adventure would have no place in White Oleander - this book is purely emotional.
Fitch's writing is haunting, eerie, and melodic. Because of this, the people she created are real. She truly hits the nail on the head in terms of the accuracy of the characters' psychological states and internal issues. We see Astrid evolve, we see her mother evolve, and we evolve as readers, too. At the start of the book I was frustrated and sightly confused. But at the end, I felt a sense of serenity and acceptance. The conclusion wasn't necessarily a joyful one, but it's exactly what was needed.
Something that really affected me was Fitch's writing. I've never experienced the way she compares things, the way she conveys emotion, the way she structures her sentences. It's raw, honest and powerful.
"In comparison to this, my past was smoke, a story my mother once told me and later denied. No onyxes for me, no aquamarines memorializing the lives of my ancestors. I had only their eyes, their hands, the shape of a nose, a nostalgia for snowfall and carved wood."
Because of Fitch's occasionally strange and eccentric way of describing things, I sometimes rushed over a paragraph to get to the important stuff. I regret this, though. Because now I realise that the book is so effective thanks to Fitch's way of presenting the novel. You're supposed to proceed slowly, analysing the information in your mind. This is sadly something I realised later on, and I don't think the book had its full effect on me.
Recommendation: If you can savour a book and not rush through it, I believe you'd enjoy White Oleander. If you're someone who likes to speed read and craves action and adventure, you'd find this book dry and boring. Don't be intimidated to pick it up, though! White Oleander is a pure delight to read.