White Oleander was written by Janet Fitch in 1999; it is a fiction novel. There are three main characters in the novel: the daughter, Astrid Magnussen, her mother, Ingrid Magnussen, and her new boyfriend Barry, who they refer to as “Goatman” because Ingrid is repulsed by him, she says.
Astrid and her mother live together in Los Angeles; Ingrid is a poet and an artist and inflicts all her beliefs onto Astrid. Astrid is 12 and doesn’t have much outside influence and because of that she doesn’t fit in much at school; she doesn’t mind though, she looks up to her mother and wants to be like her. Ingrid, even though she has rules about men, she continues to go out with Barry and their relationship escalates. Both Astrid and Ingrid are fond of Barry; he takes them places and makes them both feel special.
Barry tried very hard to get close to the self-centered, eccentric, and cold-hearted Ingrid, but as he did he became unfaithful and started lying to her. When she found out, she went into his home and violated his things out of hatred and pleasure. She soon poisoned him with a White Oleander and killed him.
Not long after, the police were knocking on her door and took her away to jail; they forced Astrid to pack a few things and took her to another home. She lived the rest of her childhood in different foster homes wondering why her mom left her alone. Astrid goes through 5 dysfunctional foster homes where terrible things happened to her, and a girl’s home throughout the last 6 years of her childhood. She struggles, and she grows up knowing all these terrible things exist and are possible.
This book was amazing to read. It really makes you think about all the tragedies that can happen to you and how there are people who will put you through those tragedies without even a thought. It makes you question humanity and whether or not you have someone, or you are alone. You feel and you read what she went through and it makes you understand the way those struggles change your mindset. By the end of the novel she talks to her mother and get the closure and answers she wanted, and then she moves on, and starts her life.