White Oleander Review
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Iíve finished dark, disturbing novels and said, "Iím glad I read that. It wasnít all happy, but Iím glad I read that." When I put down this dark, disturbing novel, however, I wished I hadnít read it. Quite frankly, Iím not sure why Oprah liked it.

Donít get me wrongówhen I put this book down my heart was pounding and it was the wee hoursóIíd stayed up late to finish it because it was so compelling. But I genuinely wished I hadnít read it. Itís not that I try to shield myself from people in tough circumstances, or that I always demand a happy ending. I had a hard time with this book, though.

In White Oleander, the main character, Astrid, was passionately attached to her selfish and unbalanced poet mother, who killed her lover an
d subsequently went to jail, leaving Astrid to be shuffled from foster home to foster home and scarred in a fresh way by each new and horrible situation. As Astrid learned to toughen herself to her situations and the fresh pain she found in each one, I found myself toughening toward the author. I had this odd feeling that the author didnít want the reader to be able to relate to Astrid entirely and that she was almost enjoying putting Astrid (and with her, the reader) in all those terrible situations.

Itís not that I think itís wrong to be hurt by books, but in this one the author seemed to be dragging me ruthlessly into Astridís broken world as some sort of punishment or emotional vent. And I found myself not happy that sheíd dragged me where I didnít want to go. And sorry that I couldnít reclaim the time.

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