“The Santa Anas blew in hot from the desert, shriveling the last of the spring grass into whiskers of pale straw. Only the oleanders thrived, their delicate poisonous blooms, t heir dagger green leaves. We could not sleep in the hot dry nights, my mother and I. I woke up at midnight to find her bed empty. I climbed to the roof and easily spotted her blond hair like a white flame in the light of the quarter moon.”
From WHITE OLEANDER by Janet Fitch
This is the first paragraph of the book. I was hooked as soon as I started reading.