White Oleander: A Brief Review

I just finished reading White Oleander (1999) by Janet Fitch. The novel is gripping, and Fitch has a tone and style that intrigues me. There are so many memorable lines—nearly every page has at least a phrase underlined. After I’ve digested the story, I’ll go back and look at those words and phrases. This read has already sparked ideas for a dozen poems. The story addresses so many issues related to the human condition—survival, motherhood, being a woman in a man’s world, love, art, education, reading and writing, the foster care system, our judicial system, and many others. I’m was so impressed by the novel that I’ve determined to read anything Janet Fitch has written. Her story is touching and compelling, her vocabulary and diction extraordinary. If you love words, you should love this novel. I was led to this novel through the recommendation of my friend E.B. and from watching the 2002 movie version.

Almost as powerful as the narrative, are the letters from Ingrid laced throughout the story. The oleander as a motiff works well. Oleander. A beautiful, hardy, but deadly flower. I’ve decided to plant some in my yard this year. They will be a reminder of this book. I’ll certainly never look at oleanders or many other things in life the same way. To me, this is a sign of good novel—one that haunts you, one you will never forget. To read more about Janet Fitch, go to her homepage herea: http://literati.net/Fitch/