Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Book Review - White Oleander

Find the BOOK here
Find the MOVIE here

What a sad sad story, but it was so well written that I wanted to find out what happened rather quickly.. It’s a rather thick book, but fortunately it has big type so it’s a fast read. I had no problem using my finger to follow the words as I read. I read this on my most recent trip to Las Vegas (I had 6 hours of flight each way, well that was the original plan I actually had more like 12 hours on the return trip)

This book follows the story of Astrid Magnussen, daughter of famed poet and feminist Ingrid Magnussen. Astrid leads the untypical life of an artist, she goes to museums and plays, poetry readings, concerts all the time watching her mother pickup much younger men and seduce into her bed. Everything seems to be going well until Ingrid meets Barry Kolker (at first she calls him The Goat Man because she finds him so repulsive) but ends up falling head over heels in love with him. Barry dumps Ingrid and she can’t take it…she ends up making a potent out of White Oleander and killing him (they never come outright and tell you how she did it, but it had to do with her cooking the oleander and mixing it with something that she then “painted” on things in his house).

After Ingrid kills Barry she ends up being sent to prison, and Astrid gets sent off to foster care……just so you know, all of this happens in the first 50 pages or so of the book.

Astrid ends up with several different families, one is ok, one is worse than the last, one is even worse than that one, one that is perfect in every way and one that is the bottom of the pit.

The things that Astrid has to deal with are beyond comprehension, growing up as a free-spirit and suddenly forced to be caged causes all sorts of problems, both for Astrid and trash that call themselves “foster parents”

During all of this time Astrid tries to break away from her mother, but can’t as she controls her from prison, either through her caseworker or writing letters directly to the foster parents.

The book is really a page turner and keeps you enticed by it’s story line.

Having grown up in what I consider a stable family it is totally foreign to me the things that children must put up with when they are thrown into the foster care system. Not that foster care is bad (it’s better than ending up on the street) but the things that happen are beyond imagination.

I have not yet seen this movie, I think that I’ll wait a while because after the Geisha incident I’m afraid to watch it so close to having completed the book.

Michael rates it: 4 out of 5 stars


Kat said...

Read it, loved it. Sooooo much better than the movie.

Nickle Annie said...

I have to agree with Kat. While the movie was ok the book was fantastic! *smootches*

xmichra said...

I agree with both of the ladies up there too. The book was fabulous. But the movie was okay.

BTW, changed domains. i am at:

CanadianSwiss said...

I think I have to start reading again. Sounds great. Never have the time! :-(

Lisa said...

I am a former foster child.

Just as an FYI, foster care can actually be worse than ending up on the street.

How? Well, it's painful to have to say this, but here it is: No incest taboo.

To be female and growing up in the foster care system makes a young lady very vulnerable. Add to that her confusion about not having a father around to protect her.

"White Oleander" is fictional, but the author was right-on in her portrayal of Astrid. So much so that, for me as a former foster child, it was painful to read.

As a former foster child and current child advocate, I have worked with both foster children and homeless children.

Do you know what strength homeless children have? They have no home. But they do have... a family member who stays with them.

That family member affirms their worth, connects them to the family and protects them from outsiders.

The hardest thing about foster care is the disconnection.

-You are disconnected from your parents (for better or worse)

-You are often disconnected from your siblings.

If you live in a group home, you have houseparents whom you know are not your real parents.

If you live in a foster family, you know that you might be moved to another placement - so it's hard to attach and feel secure.

Being homeless is tough. But knowing that at least one member cares enough to continue to care for you?


Michael said...

Lisa - Thank you SO MUCH for your comment!

The Sour Kraut said...

Just after reading the book, I said to my husband, "We have to look into fostering a child." Well, it's been years now and we never did. It is on my long list of good intentions, poor follow-through. The idea of bringing into our home a child who may have serious emotional and behavioral problems is very scary. First and foremost, I want to protect my own children. It is sad but I believe so many stable families feel this way and, therefore, do nothing to help a child in need. Lisa, I greatly admire your dedication to these children.