Lesli's Reviews > White Oleander

White Oleander by Janet Fitch
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Jan 09, 09

Read in July, 2004

** spoiler alert ** A writer should be descriptive, this is true. A writer has the ability to weave colorful, magical webs of imagination, spanning from the far corners of one's mind. Webs that collect adjectives and verbs, perfect choices of letters that, when spun together, create the most descriptive words that are able to transcend the hard barriers of overworked minds. But, my god, Janet, you totally overdid it. Though I was captivated by your writing style, the use of commas at inopportune times, the quotes that I gathered that had sunk into my soul while I read your (extremely long) novel, I was bored by the over-spinning of your creative webs. Colorful as they may have been, what you've done is you've created a web of words so completely intricate, that one is all too easily lost in it, and after a little while, one's only request is to find the way out of it. When I lost my book for those few weeks, at first I was irritated because I don't like to not finish books. But once I found it and began reading where I left off, I was hoping that the main character would either die already, or just say straight to the reader, "you know what? I'm bored with my life as much as you are. How about I stop telling about it and you stop reading it and we just go our own separate ways, mkay?" Alas, my novel did not speak to me. As you can see, Janet, in my mind you unfortunately fall into the category of "people who speak because they like to hear themselves talk". This transcends into writing. Not that I am much of an experienced writer, as I do not have a novel published and you do, and thus, you are perfectly entitled to stick your tongue out at me and tell me to take my opinion and f*ck off. But for all others out there, let me help you all understand this book:

Astrid is twelve when her mother, a selfish, blond, beautiful Norwegian, kills her boyfriend by poisoning him with boiled down, distilled oleanders. Her mother is taken to jail and sentenced to life, and Astrid began her five year trek through numerous foster homes. During this entire process she receives letters from her mother, who, in my opinion is justifiable insane and brilliant at the same time. The relationship with her mother is probably the most interesting part of the book. Her mother is so cynical about life, so stuck on the mentality that life will bite you in the ass so you should always ask what's in it for you. Her mother, a gifted and troubled poet, saves this book by writing letters and making speeches that are so filled with melodious undertones and biting adjectives that reach out from the pages and slice through your skin. Without her correspondence and insights, this book would have been in my good will pile by page 45.
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