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White Oleander | [Janet Fitch]

White Oleander

Astrid is the only child of a single mother, Ingrid, a brilliant, obsessed poet who wields her luminous beauty to intimidate and manipulate men. Astrid worships her mother and cherishes their private world full of ritual and mystery-but their idyll is shattered when Astrid's mother falls apart over a lover. Deranged by rejection, Ingrid murders the man, and is sentenced to life in prison. White Oleander is the unforgettable story of Astrid's journey through a series of foster homes.
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Publisher's Summary

An Oprah's Book Club® May 1999 Selection

Astrid is the only child of a single mother, Ingrid, a brilliant, obsessed poet who wields her luminous beauty to intimidate and manipulate men. Astrid worships her mother and cherishes their private world full of ritual and mystery-but their idyll is shattered when Astrid's mother falls apart over a lover.

Deranged by rejection, Ingrid murders the man, and is sentenced to life in prison. White Oleander is the unforgettable story of Astrid's journey through a series of foster homes and her efforts to find a place for herself in impossible circumstances. Each home is its own universe, with a new set of laws and lessons to be learned. With determination and humor, Astrid confronts the challenges of loneliness and poverty, and strives to learn who a motherless child in an indifferent world can become. Tough, irrepressible, funny, and warm, Astrid is one of the most indelible characters in recent fiction. White Oleander is an unforgettable story of mothers and daughters, burgeoning sexuality, the redemptive powers of art, and the unstoppable force of the emergent self. Written with exquisite beauty and grace, this is a compelling debut by an author poised to join the ranks of today's most gifted novelists.

Check out more selections from Oprah's Book Club.

©2000 Janet Fitch; (P)2009 Hachette

What the Critics Say

  • An Oprah Book Club selection

"...[an] impressive first novel.... her startlingly apt language relates a story that is both intelligent and gripping." (The New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (53 )
5 star
 (27)
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4.3 (37 )
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4.2 (37 )
5 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Lorena NORTH PLAINFIELD, NEW JERSEY, United States 06-23-14
    Lorena NORTH PLAINFIELD, NEW JERSEY, United States 06-23-14 Member Since 2013
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    9
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent piece of literature"
    Where does White Oleander rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I feel like Oprah didn't really sell it as a narrator. Maybe if somebody with a younger vocie narrated, it might be better.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Her time with Clair is very beautiful.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It's very sad. I read in one of the reviews that somebody actually gave this book only one star because it was sad. What an idiot! So, if you're reading this, and you're the Stewart Smalley, then I am sure there are better choices for you... but anyone out there who doesn't mind a story of the harsh reality of the foster care system, then this is a must read.


    Any additional comments?

    People who give bad ratings to books because of their own personal preferences are morons.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    C. Barnes Texas, of course 08-07-13
    C. Barnes Texas, of course 08-07-13 Member Since 2011

    I love true history books. Many about people and their lives. Also memoirs are great

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    126
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not Oprah's gift"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I loved reading this book. But I did not love listening to Oprah over dramatize every syllable. I just can't put Oprah's face into the main character of this book. Not matter how I try, it doesn't fit. I also wish the unabridged version was available.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Oprah Winfrey’s performances?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    Please no more recognizable celebrity narrators!! It screws with my head and makes it impossible to enjoy the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shelly Silver Spring, MD, United States 02-04-13
    Shelly Silver Spring, MD, United States 02-04-13 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful book performed by Oprah, need I say more"
    Would you consider the audio edition of White Oleander to be better than the print version?

    This production is lovingly read by Orpah. I really enjoyed the presentation.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I didn't want to turn this book off. It was just so beautifully written.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn Barrie, Ontario, Canada 02-03-13
    Shawn Barrie, Ontario, Canada 02-03-13 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    41
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    58
    41
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Abridged version of a good book"
    What did you like best about White Oleander? What did you like least?

    The novel is a very interesting read through the life of a teenage girl as she goes from foster home to foster home. While trying to stay clear of danger and do her on thing, her self destructive tendencies cause problems every know and then. Add in a controlling, manipulative mother pulling invisible strings on her and those around her from prison and you have a very interesting narrative.

    What I liked the least was the parts cut out from the book: This was a reread and I was looking forward to those parts. But they aren't strictly required.


    Did Oprah Winfrey do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    She was fine. Celebrity voices aren't normally as good as professional voice actors, but she did a very passable job.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish they had the unabridged version.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Westminster, CA, United States 03-08-11
    John Westminster, CA, United States 03-08-11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "Good book, bad audiobook."

    I absolutely love The White Oleander. Janet Fitch writes with beautiful synchronicity about Astrid's lonely journey through the LA foster care system. The first time I read this book was my senior year of high school. I'd been wanting to reread it, but couldn't find the time, so I purchased it with my Audible account. I was disappointed to find that Audible didn't have the Unabridged version. I feel like it took a lot out of the book and was very disappointed to find that the only parts they left in were they ones they put in the movie. This is an amazing book that I would recommend to anyone, but DO NOT get it on audiobook if you want to experience how amazing it is in its entirety.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Baker Amsterdam, Netherlands 08-23-10
    A. Baker Amsterdam, Netherlands 08-23-10 Member Since 2005

    Andy Baker

    HELPFUL VOTES
    56
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    32
    26
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Beautiful"

    This was a great book and it was beautifully read by Oprah. I remember seeing her talk about the book when it was an Oprah's Book Club selection. She said she'd immediately contacted the author to ask if she could read it. She's great. The writing is great too, of course, but Ophrah does such a fabulous job reading that I've suggested to friends that they listen rather than read it. Lots of nice turns in the story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barb Murrieta, US, Canada 08-14-10
    Barb Murrieta, US, Canada 08-14-10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    1
    Overall
    "Average"

    Kind of depressing and I didn't like how it just ends!! I felt like the author just was done writing and wrote "The End" before it should have been!

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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