White Oleander by Janet Fitch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book I've found difficult to review. First off, I would not recommend it: there is rather pervasive language and several sexual scenes, but far more disturbing is the overall theme, which is the reason that I absolutely love it, and usually revisit it once every couple years. Also, Janet Fitch can really write, with a prose style reminiscent of a less dense Dostoevsky packed with unusual metaphors that are enough to catch a reader off guard without distracting him. A rare "gift" indeed, and one that is usually far from free.
The story centers around the twelve-year-old Astrid Magnussen, and takes place over the course of about seven years, chronicling her fall from a sweet, open, (relatively) innocent child into a dark, bitter, amoral young woman, and the beginning of her rising again. This story goes from grey to black to black with a glimmer of grey, as N. D. Wilson would say. Yet, it is a very realistic, very chilling account of the utter devastation that a parent can wreak upon the life of a child, as well as a fairly accurate, if brutal and somewhat selective, account of the California Social Services
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