White Oleander, Janet Fitch / by Christina Rosalie

I' not quite sure how to describe this book. Fierce, maybe, or passionate, or frightening. I read it first before the movie came out, and have never watched the movie--so the images in my mind, indelible and searing, are the product of my imagination and Fitch's sharp, beautiful writing. The story follows the daughter of brilliant poet, imprisoned for murdering her lover, through the foster care system in L.A. Fitch portrays the complicated relationship between a mother and daughter that tangles with the universal question women invariably struggle with when confronted with making choices between their life and work, and their children. Icy, independent, obsessed with the aesthetic, and with outcomes of her poetry, the mother compromises nothing in her life for those she loves, and consequently her daughter is left to navigate through the bizarre world of foster homes, discovering herself gradually through her own art. Bittersweet, and haunting, images from this story have lingered with me for years.