Flowers in the Attic
I don’t remember where I first encountered Flowers in the Attic but I do remember being totally and completely enthralled. I was about 11, and I think someone in my family had read them and they were laying around my house somewhere. Lucky for me, I soon found and read the whole twisted series.
If you’re unfamiliar with Flowers or with V.C. Andrews’ work as a whole, you either had a normal childhood or are missing out, depending on how you look at it. Flowers in the Attic tells the story of four children–Chris, Cathy, Carrie, and Cory Dollenganger–that are locked in their grandmother’s attic after their father dies. Instead of standing up to her evil mother, the childrens’ mother disappears, leaving the kids to wither in the attic. It may sound crazy, and it is. But only in the most delightfully dramatic and smarmy ways. In other words, it’s perfect for teenage girls.
Sure, there’s incest, and a scene where the older children feed some blood to the younger twins to help them survive, but those revolting elements are what made the book so much fun to read. It was unlike anything else I’d ever read–even the few Danielle Steel novels I read (I was young and there was limited reading material in my home library–don’t judge me).
I was so taken with the book that I saw no issue in choosing to write a report on it and do a presentation in front of my seventh grade English class. Our assignment, one of the first of the year, was to choose any book we enjoyed and present it to the class. As sheltered and clueless as I was, I didn’t realize the kind of social suicide I was committing by gushing about a book that featured a brother and sister falling in love while locked in an attic. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until in the middle of my presentation, when someone in my class asked incredulously if the brother and sister committed incest. They were, probably rightfully so, disgusted, and I was labeled as the girl who read books about incest. Add that to my impressive tally of other socially reprehensible traits, and you can see why I don’t exactly look back on junior high school fondly.
But! Fast forward 20 years, and I finally feel vindicated. It turns out that not only was I not alone, but some of my favorite writers also read and loved these books when they were young, and feel no shame about expressing that affection. I can finally hold my head high and declare, “Yes! It’s true! I loved a book about incest when I was 12!”
Don’t worry–if you’ve never experienced the disturbing joy of Flowers in the Attic, Lifetime is making a movie! A movie starring Ellen Burstyn, Heather Graham, and Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper !!!). Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about this landmark television event, and can’t wait to watch the shamefest, guilt-free.
Did you read these books? Are you looking forward to the movie?