Last night, I finished reading White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I picked it up at the Goodwill for $1.50. The Goodwill is the best place for buying books. I never buy new books, even if I really really want to read them. In my heart, I know that every book I want to read will eventually come to the Goodwill. Sometimes I have to wait two or three years, but the books I am dying to read always come to me via the Goodwill. Chances are, If there is a book I think I will love, somebody else won’t like it. Or they will die, and none of their relatives will like it. And presto! It will end up at the Goodwill.
The day I bought White Oleander, I was Goodwillin’ with a friend (who recommended the book to me), and we were going completely nuts in the book section. Unfortunately for my wallet, there were a lot of excellent books there that day. Books I wanted to read, books I had read but didn’t own, and okay, books I already owned but still wanted. I have this disease… The books I really really love, well, I have multiple copies of them. When I see them in the Goodwill, I just can’t stop myself. I want it. I have this idea that no one will love them like I do. So I buy them, and then I hold onto them until I can find them a good home. I wait for people who I think will love them as much as I do, and then I hand them out with a silent tear, and hope that they will continue to be loved as I have loved them.
Okay, so now that you all think I’m bonkers, it’s time for a book review! While enjoyable, White Oleander is not a book that I would buy a second copy of. The first two thirds were quite exciting, and I didn’t want to put it down. The last third of the book dragged a little bit, but was still enjoyable. There are books, like White Oleander, that I read through quite quickly, and then there are books that I savor. For me, an excellent book is one that I read more slowly (or, if I absolutely have to know what happens and can’t stop myself from reading too fast- I immediately start over from the beginning and take it slower the second read through). I love it when a sentence stops me. Sometimes I will re-read sentences ten, twenty times, to ingrain them into my brain. These are beautiful, powerfully, wonderfully constructed sentences that I want to remember forever. This was a quick read with an exciting plot, very interesting characters, and quite a few insane ones. But there were no sentences that made me stop.
But, it was an interesting book none-the-less. One of the most interesting things in the book was the relationship between the main character, Astrid, and her Mother. For me, that relationship was the core of the book. I’ll try not to spoil anything for any readers, but suffice it to say that Ingrid (the mother) had a strong, and quite destructive influence over her daughter. Her parenting choices were far from ideal. In the beginning of the book, Astrid worships her mother, completely dependent and willing to do anything for her. Throughout the book, Astrid comes to hate her, despise her, and then finally comes to understand her. It is an interesting look at what constitutes a Mother and Daughter relationship, and what we will endure for our blood.
Cathy and Lyra
Now Astrid went through some crazy shit. She lived in some very intense foster homes, with some very intense people. It was in those scenes that I sometimes stopped, and wondered if some of the actions of the secondary characters, Astrid as well, were a little too extreme. Some of these actions conflicted with how I perceived the character from previous actions. There were times when I felt like this about the Mother's actions as well, but these believability concerns did not distract me too much from finishing up the novel.
The book contains quite a bit of profanity, and sex. While this is not a deterrent for me, I would not recommend this book to you if you are uncomfortable with that sort of thing. For all of you sex-loving, profanity spouting readers out there, I would recommend this as a quick, entertaining read.