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Flowers in the Attic

2013 August 19

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?

9 Responses Post a comment
  1. August 19, 2013

    LOL about your report to the class! I loved these books (although I don’t remember the blood-feeding incident). I think I read them when I was about 12 or 13. I don’t even have TV, but I’m planning to watch this movie somehow. Hopefully it will be released on netflix.

    • Jill permalink
      August 19, 2013

      Yeah, we don’t have cable either, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to see it another way. Sometimes Lifetime has things online, I think? I’ll have to post my thoughts about the movie once it airs!

  2. Melissa permalink
    August 19, 2013

    You probably got those books from me, as I, too remember them very fondly. I think that a movie was made from the book and it was Terrible! We are talking Sharknado level terrible, here. Very disappointing after falling in love with these books. I cannot wait to see the Lifetime version. I can only hope that it is as compelling as one of my favorite Lifetime classics, “Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?” Tori Spelling at her dramatic best!!

    • Jill permalink
      August 19, 2013

      Ha, I thought it was you, but I didn’t want to implicate you in public. :) And yes, “Mother, May I Sleep with Danger?” is a classic, and I can only hope that Lifetime recreates the magic with this Flowers in the Attic movie!

  3. Megan permalink
    August 19, 2013

    I READ IT TOO!!! My friend Jessie gave it to me (she read ALL the VC Andrews books, she was so cool), and I sucked it down too. I don’t even remember feeling shame about it until I was older and learned what it was all about. But then again, I didn’t get the chance to write about it for school. I probably would have though, I loved it.

  4. August 20, 2013

    I think this is my favorite post of yours so far. I love the image of adolescent Jill excitedly giving a presentation about a book she loves and all the other kids being horrified it’s about incest. it’s too bad we didn’t know each other in junior high, I bet I would have thought you were AMAZING.

    • Jill permalink
      August 20, 2013

      We would totally have been friends in junior high school! Believe me, I needed all the friends I could get…

  5. Raquel permalink
    August 20, 2013

    You and your adolescent self are too fabulous.

    There was just an article about this in xoJane too, filled with enthusiastic comments. Apparently there is some mad love for this book going around the web lately.

    I’ve never read it but know all about it so I feel like I read it already. Interestingly enough I found a battered copy of it among my stash of books at my parents’ house. I think I picked up a used copy thinking I’d read it one day, but now I’m worried my window for appreciating it may have passed?

    • Jill permalink
      August 20, 2013

      Yeah…I just don’t think it would retain any kind of “magic” for grown women. Maybe you should just check out the movie. :)

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