Books: White Oleander By Janet Fitch

By Janet Fitch

The title flower triggers a savage turn of events when the poet Ingrid Magnussen poisons her lover, consigning herself to a jail life and her 12-year-old daughter to Los Angeles' foster-care system. Young Astrid gets off to a shaky start at the home of a born-again Christian who shoots her in a fit of righteous jealousy. She survives that, though, as well as prison notes from her mother, which include sentiments like this: "Sometimes I wish you were dead, so I would know you were safe." Fitch tends to get lost in the lyricism of her prose, but there are satisfying...

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