White Oleander Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of White Oleander

The story is essentially the tale of Astrid, a young woman coming of age through a variety of foster homes, and Ingrid, her beautiful but distant mother.
Click here to see the rest of this review

Astrid and Ingrid float through life, adhering to Ingrid's somewhat arbitrary rules regarding relationships with men, until Ingrid breaks her own rules with a man she falls for. He, of course, lets her down and leaves her. She cannot come to terms with this and poisons him. She is sent away to prison and so begins Astrid's journey to adulthood.

Astrid finds herself in a number of foster homes through her childhood.
The review of this Book prepared by Mike Newman

Astrid Magnussen is a teenager who is forced to go into the California foster system after her mother is arrested for killing her boyfriend. Astrid has to adapt from being a child who always depended on her mother(Ingrid)to guide her to becoming self dependent living with a host of families that do not really care about her. This meant that she had to start acting as a grown up. In most of the homes that she went to, she usually assumed alot of responsibility. It was realy difficult for her to find out her real personality because her mother did not accept most of the choices she made. Although the mother was in prison, she tried her best to have some control in Astrids life by corresponding through letters. The whole book turns out to be a struggle between Astrid and her mother. Astrid faces a dilema of trying to get out of her mothers grip on her life and become independent of her while deep down she still craves for that motherly love.   
The review of this Book prepared by Tendai Mita

A young girl named Astrid struggles in the Los Angles foster care system after she is put there when her mother is sent to prison for murdering her lover. For the next six years she will struggle to find herself by trying to separate herself from her manipulative mother she can not help but love, and survive in the foster homes she is put in through out the setting of Los Angeles County.
The review of this Book prepared by Kate Sully

This is one of the saddest books I have read. It is about a young girl whose mom is a poet, and mentally unstable in many ways. When Mom loses control over a lover, killing him, she is sent to prison, and Astrud, who's about 12 years old at the time, is sent from foster home to foster home. Some of these homes are terrible, and she experiences a lot of trouble with each one of them. Then she gets Claire as a foster parent, and things change for the better for awhile-until a tragedy in Claire's life that is. She is angry at her mother throughout the whole book for putting her through this and betraying her trust.
The review of this Book prepared by Boppy

A true piece of Los Angeles literature, this book speaks to all women who've grown up and found themselves in L.A. This beautifully written story is told with an artists eye, through exquisite scenery and poetic wordplay. Astrid, the narrator and heroine, struggles to find herself first in a Hollywood apartment with her cold, selfish mother, then throughout the melting pot that is Los Angeles (trailer in the Valley, slums of Elysian Park, in an upscale yuppie household). Issues Astrid deals with while in the foster care system following her mother's crime of passion include: destructive sexual relations, drug use, self-mutilation, sexual orientation, violence, and a highly manipulative, one-of-a-kind character that is her mother, Ingrid. I found this book to be truly remarkable.
The review of this Book prepared by Melissa Castaneda

A young girl is forced to go though a series of foster homes while her mother is sent to prison for killing her boyfriend. She then finds out the hardships of life without parental guidence.
The review of this Book prepared by Heather

A teenage girl travels through the foster care system in Los Angeles as a result of her mother murdering her ex-lover and going to prison.
The review of this Book prepared by Nancy Hochman

Chapter Analysis of White Oleander

Click on a plot link to find similar books!

Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   depressed Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 Kids growing up/acting up?    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Something wrong upstairs/downstairs?    -   searching for identity/meaning Parents/lack of parents problem?    -   fighting with bitchy momma Wild kid(s)?    -   committing crimes

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   8 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   California City?    -   Yes City:    -   Los Angeles Misc setting    -   prison

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   touching of anatomy    -   actual description of hetero sex Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like White Oleander

Janet Fitch Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
2 Ways to Search!

Our Chief Librarian