MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Reading guide for White Oleander by Janet Fitch

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

White Oleander

by Janet Fitch

White Oleander by Janet Fitch X
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 1999, 390 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2000, 400 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  • Describe the relationship between Astrid and Ingrid early in the book. Why was Astrid fearful her mother would "fly away" if she mentioned she would have enjoyed having a father, summer camp, a Y program, or summer school?

  • Astrid said "My mother was not the least bit curious about me." (p. 10) How do you think that made this twelve year-old feel? What do you think that does to a child to come to that realization?

  • Why does Astrid express herself through her paintings and drawings versus words?

  • Discuss the symbolism of the wildfires and Astrid's coming of age, her desires, and her feelings?

  • Compare the characteristics of the white oleander to Ingrid. Then draw a comparison to the type of mother she was, and the type of prisoner she was. Can you compare any characteristics of the white oleander to Astrid?

  • Ingrid said in a passage "Isn't it funny, I'm enjoying my hatred so much more than I ever enjoyed love." (p. 34) How does this come back to haunt her?

  • Astrid takes a few of her mother's things before the child welfare people take her away. What is the significance of the ex-acto knife? Of the kimono? What solace or strength do they offer her?

  • Although Astrid tells Paul "I don't let anyone touch me" (p.265) discuss how Claire touched her. Did others touch her as well? What is it about her experiences with people that make her feel this way? Discuss the powerful ways in which Astrid touched other people.

  • Why would Astrid choose Rena as her new foster mother versus Bill and Ann Greenway? Was she in some way trying to punish herself? Why did she feel she deserved Rena?

  • Discuss the various letters from mother to daughter, especially the one on p. 303. At what point did Astrid start to pull away from her mother emotionally? At what point was she snapped back?

  • Referring to her relationship with Ray, Astrid said "I was the snake in the garden." (p.93) How does this phrase relate to Marvel, Claire and Rena?

  • Why does Astrid wait several hours before alerting Ron to Claire's death? What in Astrid died at the same time?

  • Discuss Astrid's view of men. How does Ray compare to Ron? Does she blame men for the bad things that happen to women? Are women merely pawns in a man's world? How does she rise above this?

  • Why do you think Astrid always found herself in the position of caregiver to Starr's children, Marvel's children, and Claire when she was so deeply in need of care herself?

  • Life presents us with important lessons to be learned. What was the ultimate life lesson Astrid learned in her teenage journey? Why would she consider, and desire, a new life with her mother, yet not return to her in the end?


  • Reproduced with the permission of the publisher, Little, Brown & Co. All rights reserved.


    Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Back Bay Books. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: After the Last Border
    After the Last Border
    by Jessica Goudeau
    According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, the number of displaced people around the world is ...
  • Book Jacket: Crossings
    Crossings
    by Alex Landragin
    Crossings is a beautiful, if slightly messy, time-bending debut. It reads like a vampire novel, sans...
  • Book Jacket: Pew
    Pew
    by Catherine Lacey
    A quote often attributed to Leo Tolstoy states that "All great literature is one of two stories; a ...
  • Book Jacket: Waiting for an Echo
    Waiting for an Echo
    by Christine Montross
    Dr. Christine Montross had been a practicing psychiatrist for nearly a decade when she decided to ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    With or Without You
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A moving novel about twists of fate, the shifting terrain of love, and coming into your own.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Hieroglyphics
    by Jill McCorkle

    A mesmerizing novel about piecing together the hieroglyphics of history and memory.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Every Bone a Prayer
by Ashley Blooms

The the story of one tough-as-nails girl whose choices are few but whose fight is boundless.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Every Bone a Prayer

Every Bone a Prayer by Ashley Blooms

A beautifully honest exploration of healing and of hope.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Real M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.