Friday, July 30, 2010

Books 106: White Oleander & The Book Thief

So I'm back from Australia, but I never could have survived those days of 12 hour plane rides without the aid of the two books that I brought with me on my journey. I had read them both in the past, but they're the kind of books that I find I can read again and again because they're just that good.

On the way there, it was
White Oleander by Janet Fitch.

Twelve-year-old Astrid Magnusson lives a rather solitary in LA with her famous poet of a mother, Ingrid. Her mother begins dating a man named Barry Kolker, but he ends up breaking her heart. Barry Kolker should have known that Ingrid Magnusson is not a woman to be trifled with. Ingrid ends up breaking into Barry's house and spreading a poisonous mixture of oleander all over the surfaces of Barry's home, which kills him. She is eventually charged with his murder and sentenced to life in prison, but promises Astrid that she will come back. From here on, the book follows Astrid over the years on her journey through numerous foster homes, and her journey of finding herself.

There's a movie made of the book as well, if you're interested.

On the return journey, I turned the pages of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Narrated by Death itself, this book tells the tale of little Liesel Meminger, a girl living in Germany in the midst of World War II. Liesel's chronically ill mother decides to take Liesel and her brother to live with foster parents, but her brother does not survive the journey. While at the graveyard for her brother's funeral, Liesel steals her first book: The Gravedigger's Handbook, which the apprentice gravedigger dropped in the snow. Liesel arrives to Himmel Street at the home of her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, and she soon grows to love them. She develops a very close bond with her Hans, who plays the accordion and teaches her how to read The Gravedigger's Handbook, and she even makes a best friend named Rudy Steiner. However, after the Hubermann's take in and hide a Jewish man named Max Vanderburg who Liesel befriends, the Nazi presence and the rise of World War II soon throw all of their lives into turmoil.

If you're not already in over your head with all the summer reading you have to do, I highly suggest either one of these books to you.


  1. Sounds like some very deep reads that are satisfying.

  2. Glad you are back. Some very cool reads.