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Oleanders are Poisonous: Some things can't be forgiven

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  33 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In a town where gossip spreads like dust blowing in from the Mallee's canola fields, something unspeakable is about to happen to sixteen-year-old Lauren. It's bad enough she's losing her mum to a horrible disease and that her best friend is leaving town, but now the only person she thought she could trust, is about to betray her.

She can't stay here. No one is going to bel
Paperback, 170 pages
Published February 7th 2020 by AJC Publishing
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Average rating 4.42  · 
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Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got a copy of this book from Book Siren. It was compared to Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson so I thought I might like it.

The beginning of the book was a bit hard to follow, I felt like it jumped from place to place a bit quickly and it took me awhile to figure out what was going on and what the importance of certain things were. Once I got into the book I had a hard time putting it down. It was very expressive, being told from Lauren's perspective, I felt like I could truly see and feel what sh
Madhu MaBookYard -
My Rating : 3.75🌟
Kindle/ BookSirens/ March2020
Thankyou BookSirens for the e-copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.
This book follows the story of Lauren while she deals with life after finding out her mom is losing her memories. *Trigger Warning - Mental Health, Suicide, Sexual Abuse, Homophobia *
First, I loved the way this story was told over a period of time. The book starts off with a really normal everyday scene where the characters a
Charlene  Martin
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mature YA
AJ Collins´ YA novel Oleanders are Poisonous: Some Things Can't Be Forgiven introduces readers to sixteen-year-old Lauren, who is dealing with incredible physical and emotional loss. Still reeling from the death of her father, Lauren is now learning to cope with her mother´s progressing dementia and a stepfather who seems to be losing the control he values. This is a family situation that spirals out of control. In typical fashion, before she has time to adjust to one situation, she is thrust in ...more
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i received a free ebook in exchange for an honest review. the book was a short read. first few sections had me all over the place, confused. but soon as i grasped the direction, the book turned so captivating. too bad that it was too short to be truly satisfactory, cant wait for the next instalment!
Georgina Ballantine
I received a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.

Oleanders are Poisonous tackles some challenging themes — mental health, dementia, grief, abuse and more — but it wasn't a book weighed down by them, as some stories are. The humour and pacing kept the story moving and I found myself engrossed after the first two chapters.
The central character Lauren was portrayed skillfully and I certainly found myself empathising with her, especially over her mother's dementia. Lauren shows both vulnerab
Ara Sarafian
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. The characters feel very real, and I have a lot of empathy for Lauren, the protagonist. The complex challenges she faces will give readers a lot to reflect on. It's a great book, which covers a number of important themes for YA readers. The novel has a wonderful pace, and the writing is sharp and engaging. I wanted things to work out for Lauren. I'm happy there's a second book in the series so I can spend more time with these characters. ...more
S.C. Karakaltsas
I don’t normally read a lot of young adult fiction but what I have read is usually quite suitable for adults. Oleanders are Poisonous is one such book.

Lauren is a young teenage girl who lives in the Mallee. She has a close mate, Harry whom she’s known for years. Singing with him takes her mind off her home life where her mother is deteriorating from a debilitating illness. Lauren and her step-father, Samuel struggle to cope until one night on Lauren’s sixteenth birthday everything dramatically c
Kirra-Rose Lewis
I received a copy of this book from BookSirens (thank you!), however, all thoughts and feelings are my own.

Lauren's world is crashing down around her. Her mother is incredibly ill, her best friend is preparing to leave town and the only other person she's close to isn't who she thought he was. Lauren doesn't think she can stay in this small town with no one by her side. The only question is can she let go of her nostalgic past?

*This story does contain scenes/mentions of sexual assault, homophobi
Paula  Phillips
Scrolling through Booksirens, I came across this YA read and decided it sounded like something up my alley. A bit of an edgy read. The book starts with introducing us to Lauren and her friend Henry. I loved the game these two played - it was like a spelling bee with Chupa Chups as the prize - as a child I always wished we had spelling bees and book quiz competitions as I would have had so much fun entering them as that's where my skills shone through. Lauren has so much on her plate at the momen ...more
Rebecca Fraser
Oct 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I inhaled this book! It’s a relatively short read, but that doesn’t negate its impact. In fact, I would argue it heightens it. In Oleanders Are Poisonous, Collins tackles some challenging issues and themes, with teen protag Lauren not only navigating the usual universal teenage dilemmas, but also the terrible weight of burdens beyond her years: dementia, distorted family dynamics, grief, abuse, and betrayal. Well-paced, and well-written, and set against the backdrop of small town regional Victor ...more
Rosa Carrafa Publishing
From the very beginning, I was there! I felt the confusion, the questions, the loss and ....... Oh I won't spoil it for those who are yet to read this beautifully written story. I am looking forward to reading the follow up. Like all heartfelt stories, they need to read. I personally love holding the book and turning the pages. Stop to reflect and even wonder what the writer A.J. Collins will be sharing in the follow up chapters. This is a keepsake. A gift for every one and I am sure it will hav ...more
Glenys Yaffe
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oleanders are Poisonous is a compelling story of Lauren, a vulnerable adolescent living in a country town.

As soon as I began this book, I had to keep reading, as Lauren’s story drew me along with her, emotionally involving me in her experiences and her efforts to live with pain and confusion.

This beautifully written book by A. J. Collins, the first of a pair, transported me from moments of witty lightness to intense drama and back again, in parallel with Lauren’s own experiences. I could feel L
Roslyn Cairns
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was hooked from the beginning with the close relationship of Lauren and Harry on the bus. The story developed easily against the background of the Mallee and Lauren’s family life. Her mother’s dementia was beautifully portrayed, leading into the frustration felt by Lauren, and I felt the sorrow emanating from the stepfather. The breakdown of the family was inevitable, but Lauren showed she had the resilience to escape, aided by her friend, Snap. I was pleased when Snap showed her she could ris ...more
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow! This, and it's sequel 'Magnolias Don't Die', are coming-of-age books like none I've read before. They are challenging, deal with today's issues - and the characters are believable. AJ Collins gets to the nub of some of the things confronting teenagers; she does it sensitively and compassionately. None of her characters is perfect, but that makes them all the more likeable.
I guarantee that once to start this book you will have to read the second. It's worth it.
Apr 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is a good coming of age read. The book does end in a cliffhanger that has a sequel to the story. The story has a good story line. The characters are good, and they have good chemistry. The story is an enjoyable emotional read. I received an advanced review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily
May 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lauren, despite being young, maybe because of all her problems she seems a girl with her head in the place, she knows what happening and tries to accept the horrible fate, she's a strong character. At least she finds a good friend, Snap, and it’s quite touching what they go through together. Snap helps Lauren and pushes her to face the problems, he’s another character with a lot of pain but together with Lauren they make the story. All the characters in this books are well-developed.

It’s interes
Sally Hetherington
This is one book I highly recommend! I honestly could not put it down from word go!
It's fast pace, wittily written tale by A.J.Collins will have you in stitches and then tears the next. The main character, Lauren is relatable and depicts a fiesty, brave young woman who deals with more than one should at such a young age. I can't wait to start the sequel "magnolias don't die".
Robyn Gillies
Jan 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We travel in parallel worlds when we read, looking to escape from our everyday lives. This story delivers on that premise and packs a punch as it takes us on the journey of life, death, grief, loss, love and betrayal. But it offers more than the sum of its parts, it offers hope, and that no matter what happens to us, we can be bigger and better than our past.
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oleanders are Poisonous is a realistic YA novel with a lot of pain. The sense of loss that comes from having a parent be physically present, but no longer themselves due to dementia, is something I don’t enjoy thinking about. It is a pain I hope I never have to go through...and even though Lauren, the protagonist, lives in a tiny country town, she has to cope with this loss largely on her own.

Lauren has no siblings, no aunts or uncles or wider support network; only a well-meaning neighbour who c
Susan Cramer
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I haven’t read anything so moving in ages. Laughed, cried, loved it. Off to read the sequel now.
Rhonda Johnston
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
AJ Collins has written a thought provoking, fascinating story in Oleanders are Poisonous. Once I began to read the free flowing story, I could not put it down, so I finished reading it, in the same day.

The self-battles of Lauren in the story, bring insight to the reader, of the demanding struggles of a young teenage girl, who has to face and deal with (if not defeat) her demons. Living in a small country town where any change from daily happenings become local gossip, she is torn between sharin
Annie (Annie's Readingtips)
This is such a sad and gripping coming-of-age story, filled with heartbreak, loss and abuse, but also with friendship, healing, hope and help to find light in the dark. It doesn’t shy away from heavy topics such as homophobia, self-harm and suicide, but it does it in a respectful, earnest and hopeful way.

Sixteen-year-old Lauren has not had an easy life. Losing her dad at a young age and shortly thereafter their home, and now her mother to dementia. As if that’s not enough, her best friend and se
Mona Chergui
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a really good book.

I moved house in September, so for the last 6 weeks I've been in a huge book slump. I was really busy planning the move, moving, and then had a huge change in my routine. So I went from reading 4 or 5 books a week, to not having finished anything for over a month. This book though changed that!

It moves quickly and is really engrossing. Despite their young age, the main characters are well defined and complex. And no annoying clichés are used. Even the gay character is rea
Tania Archer
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a really great read! I read it in one day! I liked this book because I thought it was well written, down to earth and witty. I identified with the main character’s way of thinking easily and I think it would be a great read for any teenager going through some angst.
I’ll definitely recommend this book to friends.
Celeste Munoz
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a surprisingly sweet, heavy-hitting read! I really enjoyed reading this book and honestly am thrilled there's a sequel coming. The writing was simple, yet emotive, and readers felt right along with Lauren. The way dementia was tackled was sensitive, yet real, and the way Lauren dealt with her trauma rang very true to me. The ending was hopeful, yet not sugar-coated. A very satisfying little book! I received an advance copy for free and I am leaving this review voluntarily. ...more
Andrew Pelechaty
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lauren is not a typical teen. Her father is dead, and her mother is showing early stages of dementia. She lives in a small town with her mother and her new husband - Samuel. Her life is stressful as she doesn't know how long it will take before her mother's dementia progresses.

Oleanders are Poisonous is a very good and heartbreaking coming-of-age story. Even though this seemed like a young adult read, I would say it is more an adult material because of the sensitive theme. I liked Lauren and her
Mar 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow!!!! I absolutely loved this book. Lauren is way stronger than she realizes, managing to survive all she goes through. I love Snap and his devotion to her. Can’t wait to see how this story continues.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
I eager to read this book because I really want to know the whole story of what actually happen and attracted to the quote “ some things can’t be forgiven .”

As i’ve read the book , I feel that the book such a slow phase book. And , it bored me somehow. Hmmm... it took me 2 weeks to finish the 154 pages . That’s not good for me.

The other reason that might be this book not for me is that , I thought it was a standalone book. But, it turn up to be series . Hmmm... I rarely read series book 🙈🙈 .

Kim Robyn Smith
rated it liked it
Sep 19, 2020
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AJ Collins is a Melbourne based fiction author. A recipient of first prize and several commendations for the Monash WordFest awards, AJ has been published in various short story anthologies and magazines and was awarded a place at Hardcopy 2018 in Canberra, a national professional development program for writers. Her work has also been read on Radio Queensland.

AJ graduated from RMIT’s Professional

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