About the Book
- V.C. Andrews
Cover Story: Typical V.C. Andrews’ 70s Creepster Schlock
BFF Charm: Are You Fucking Kidding Me? No.
Swoonworthy Scale: Seriously, Do You Even Go Here? -800
Talky Talk: Typical VC Andrews’ 70s Creepster Pedantic Monotonous Bullshit
Anti-Bonus Factors: Rape, Statutory Rape, Miscarriages, Creepy Parents, Anti-Feminism Patriarchal Bullshit, Evil Wind Chimes, Ableist Nonsense, Milk Carton Vaginas
Relationship Status: There Is Not Enough Vodka In the World
(Mom, you . . . probably shouldn’t read this, due to Adult Language and Adult Themes. Same goes for you, Mr. and Mrs. Sarah’s parents.)
Cover Story: Typical V.C. Andrews’ 70s Creepster Schlock
V.C. Andrews’ book covers are kind of like those Anne Geddes pictures of babies dressed up as flowers or puppies: they are all exactly the same level of unsettling and weird and stupid and ugly, but some of them feature teacups and some do not. This cover looks exactly like the Flowers in the Attic cover, only instead of four blonde-haired children and a looming grandmother, you have dumbass Audrina (with hair that doesn’t look very apricot, I MUST SAY. More like dirty blonde.) being loomed over by her creepy father, Damian.
Also the cover takes care to include the stupid infernal fucking rocking chair and the spiders and, ordinarily, it’s a good thing when the cover designers have read the book. In this case, however, I’m pretty sure that they just opened the book to twelve different pages and each time Audrina was in her stupid rocking chair and there were spider webs and wind chimes, because that seriously comprises LIKE 80% OF THE COPY OF THIS BOOK.
The (Longest) Deal (Ever):
Audrina Adare is the dumbest person alive. She can’t tell time and she’s afraid of colors. She lives in a decaying mansion with her father Damian, her mother Lucky, her maternal aunt Ellsbeth, Ellsbeth’s hell-child, Vera, and the ever-present ghost of the First and Best Audrina, who died nine years before this Audrina was born, after she was raped in the woods by a group of boys.
Audrina is missing large chunks of her memory and sometimes weeks go by and she doesn’t realize it. She doesn’t go to school because her parents are worried that she will be raped and killed like the First and Best Audrina. Her dad makes her sit in this dumbass rocking chair that belonged to the First and Best Audrina so that she (the Second and Worst and Dumbest Audrina) can capture the First and Best Audrina’s “gift,” which, sadly, is neither syphilis nor Parcheesi.
As Audrina gets older, she meets and falls for a young boy named Arden Lowe, who is the worst person on the entire planet, but we’ll get to him in a bit. Arden has a mother named Billie, who never leaves the house, and seriously 100 pages are wasted on why that is until finally Audrina learns that Billie’s legs were amputated, due to complications from diabetes. Did I mention the part where Audrina wonders for a hundred pages about why she’s never seen Billie walking around before she learns the truth? A HUNDRED PAGES, Y’ALL. I just want to make all of this clear to you because I feel like maybe those of you who haven’t read this book don’t understand how dumb Audrina is (or how dumb V.C. Andrews thinks you are). Imagine the dumbest person you’ve ever met. Then divide that person by Anthony Weiner’s PR Manager. Then multiply that by a factor of Sarah Palin and you might get close to the dumbness that is stupid, stupid Audrina, though I still think you’d have to dig several layers down to get to Audrina’s particular level of dumb.
Meanwhile, Audrina is being tormented daily by her older cousin Vera, who says all sorts of malicious things to Audrina. Audrina, because she is so dumb, takes all of this and dopily wonders why her cousin – who looks remarkably like Audrina’s father – hates her so much. Gosh, I don’t know, Audrina. But I do know it’s going to take you exactly 340 pages to figure it out!
Vera, by the way, has some sort of Avian Bone Syndrome, cause she keeps breaking her legs and arms. She seriously breaks her leg four times in the book, and her arm at least twice. And four ribs. And I think also a hip. I don’t know why Audrina doesn’t just push Vera down the stairs and be done with it, but then I guess I wouldn’t be able to suffer for another four hundred pages and my liver wouldn’t have progressed from 40% diseased to “transplant-ready.”
When Audrina gets to be around age 12, the shizz really starts hitting the fan. Audrina’s mother, Lucky, falls pregnant (the arrival of another Adare child is really more like a pronouncement of a grave illness, because these people suck and shouldn’t be allowed to populate the gene pool), but the combination of bourbon-laced tea and repeated beatings from Damian cause Lucky to go into premature labor and die while giving birth to a daughter, Sylvia. This makes Lucky as ironic a name-bearer as a stripper named Chastity.
Sylvia is born with developmental difficulties, and because Damian Adare is pretty much the worst human on the planet (he and Arden actually duke it out for worst in my book), he sticks Sylvia into a facility for a good two years before allowing her to come home.
In those two years, lots of craziness happens, all of which spans about 60 pages, because we have to set aside at least 120 pages for the stupid fucking rocking chair. Here’s what happens:
- Vera, age 15, starts having an affair with Audrina’s music teacher. She claims to be pregnant, miscarries (more on that later), and then runs off with the music teacher to New York, even though the music teacher can’t stand Vera and really only fucks her so he can pretend he’s having sex with pre-pubescent Audrina instead. A winner!
- Aunt Ellsbeth and Damian rekindle their love affair and it takes Audrina an excruciatingly long chapter to realize that Vera is actually her half-sister and cousin, not just her cousin, and even then it’s only because someone pretty much spells it out for her.
- Audrina and Arden Lowe fall in chaste love and he proposes – while she is thirteen. (Well, she isn’t thirteen, but she doesn’t know that.)
- Sylvia comes home to live with the Adares, and Damian puts Audrina in charge of Sylvia’s well-being and enrichment, which is sort of like making a snail take the hare’s spot in a greyhound race where all the greyhounds are missing three of their four legs.
- Meanwhile, Damian keeps making Audrina sit in the First and Best Audrina’s rocking chair so that she can recreate the details of Audrina’s rape and then capture her “gift”
- Aunt Ellsbeth falls down the stairs and breaks her neck, therefore dying and ridding the world of the only person in this entire family who wasn’t a complete asshole (just 90% of one).
Audrina gets very upset about Aunt Ellsbeth’s death, so she runs off to elope with stupid Arden Lowe. On their wedding night, Audrina gets very scared and upset about the whole sex thing, so Arden Lowe, with his usual sensitivity, pretty much just rams himself into her. Classy and romantic. (Also if you haven’t figured out by now where this story is heading, then you are kind of slow! But you STILL aren’t as dumb as Audrina, who won’t figure it out for two hundred more pages, so take heart!)
Audrina and Arden return home, where they find that Damian has moved Billie into the house to be his new sex slave. Audrina’s pretty upset about all of this, but then Billie convinces Audrina that Damian makes her feel like a natural wommmaaaan, because even legless ex-Olympian figure skaters need to occasionally be debased by an asshole who ruins everything he touches.
Vera eventually returns home as well, which is disconcerting for Audrina, because Vera keeps taking her top off in front of Arden. Damian continues to treat Vera with scorn, but actually seems to warm to Arden and gives him a job at Damian’s stock-trading company. Arden works a lot and he and Audrina grow distant, mostly because Audrina’s scared of sex and Arden is impatient with her. Arden totally starts having an affair with Vera. Not for the first time.
Then Billie dies by, you guessed it, falling down the stairs. Even though she can’t walk and would have had no reason to go down the stairs. The stupid police dismiss this as an accident, but Audrina becomes convinced that Sylvia is actually a diabolical mastermind who has purposely been blinding people with prisms so that they’ll trip and fall down the stairs. Sylvia, by the way, is like ten.
Audrina grows very depressed and listless after Billie dies and she stays like that for a year or two and then one day she and Arden Lowe have it out about the fact that he is, you know, fucking her sister. Er, Vera, that is. Not Sylvia. Normally I wouldn’t have to clarify that, but this is a V.C. Andrews novel, so you never can tell. Arden Lowe is going to leave Audrina for Vera! He doesn’t want to, but Audrina has forced him to have an affair because of how she didn’t respond with overwhelming joy when he poked at her thighs for a few minutes and then shoved his half-flaccid dick in her whilst sweating on her face. Then Audrina realizes that, yes, it was SHE who has been in the wrong all this time, because of how she didn’t lead her husband to believe he was THE GREATEST LOVER IN THE UNIVERSE, and so even though she is MYSTERIOUSLY TERRIFIED OF SEX, she does it with him and sort of likes it and then they make up and he promises to stop fucking her sister. Then, the next day, Arden ever-so-briefly hints that maybe possibly in the future, one time when Audrina is super nice and says her pleases and thank yous, and has cleansed herself repeatedly using only the world’s finest douches, he MIGHT consent to go down on her. Audrina is overwhelmed with gratitude at this special gift that her husband of FOUR FUCKING YEARS is bestowing upon her, and stupid Arden Lowe is all “Well, I didn’t do it before now because you seem not to enjoy it when I ram my half-flaccid dick into your dry vagina.” And this is the point where I pretty much threw my book down in disgust and pulled out my own hair. God, I’d like to think that no boy ever read this book and thought this was the way to have sexy times with a lady, but I think it’s possible that a few of them did and then they all ended up going to my college.
So annnyway, Audrina is feeling pretty good about life and then she has a nightmare about the First and Best Audrina’s rape and she wakes up and runs down the hall and then sees prisms reflecting color in her eyes and then . . . falls down the stairs.
Oh, but it doesn’t end there, people. If it did, we’d all be so much happier. Besides, Audrina hasn’t even figured out her connection to the First and Best Audrina yet! (List of other things Audrina has yet to figure out: the effects of gravity on the earth, which hand tells the hour and which hand tells the minute and how to count to ten.) Anyhooskies, Audrina ends up in a coma.
After she’s been in the coma for a few weeks, she starts coming out of it – enough to hear Arden Lowe and Vera talking about how they need to pull the plug. By the way, Arden Lowe and Vera are having sex again. I guess Audrina drove him to it, because of how she wouldn’t have sex with him while she was in a coma on life support.
Vera then manages to trick Sylvia into pulling Audrina’s life support plug and Audrina is dying but then Sylvia manages to save her and roll her (using a cart that Billie used to use to roll around on) under the bed in the First and Best Audrina’s room. And then Vera comes home and then somehow Sylvia manages to pick Audrina up and put her in that damn rocking chair and Audrina rocks and rocks and then figures out that Arden totally saw the three boys about to rape the First and Best Audrina and, instead of helping, he ran away.
“But wait,” I hear you say. “If Arden was there, then the First and Best Audrina must not have died nine years before the Second and Worst Audrina was born, because Arden isn’t that much older than Audrina!” Well, give yourself a pat on the back for being so smart! Wait! NOT YOU, AUDRINA. Cause you still haven’t figured it out!
So Audrina goes round and round the mulberry bush, wondering exactly how Arden could have known the First and Best Audrina, and space aliens from 20000 light years away shout, and tiny one-celled organisms deep within prehistoric lakes shout, and you shout, and I shout, and Bastian from The Neverending Story shouts, “THERE IS ONLY ONE FUCKING AUDRINA, YOU BRAINLESS MORON, AND THAT AUDRINA IS YOU!” But still Audrina doesn’t understand until her father finally fucking breaks it down for her. There is only the one Audrina. Audrina was raped on her ninth birthday by three boys in the woods while Arden ran away, scared. Audrina came home and felt awful, and Audrina’s mother rubbed her skin raw until it bled, and Audrina wanted to kill herself and Audrina’s father was ashamed that his daughter’s precious virginity had been stolen and she was no longer pure, and so he took her for electroshock therapy that erased her memory and then purposely fucked with her head until she could no longer tell the time (which included: drugging her so that she’d sleep for a week and tell her that only a day had passed, or telling her a week had passed overnight, having old newspapers delivered to the house as if they were current, holding Tuesday tea times twice a week so that the weeks seemed shorter, and a host of other things that are probably never a good idea). And then, after only a year and a half, they had their new Second and Dumbest Audrina, who was convinced she was seven years old, and had no memory of the rape.
You might then wonder, if they spent all this time and money and wtfery on convincing Audrina that the events of her life prior to and including her ninth birthday actually happened to someone else, why would her dumb, awful father make her sit in that rocking chair, like, EVERY DAMN DAY so that she could capture the “gift.” Well, as it turns out, after Audrina was raped and then therefore became UNPURE FOREVER, she also turned . . . kind of bitter? Which is a shocking turn of events for a little girl who was brutally raped by three classmates! And after she turned bitter, she could no longer find the special goodness in people, and that made her Daddy sad, cause he relied on Audrina to make him feel better about being such a dickhead.
Yep. That’s it. That’s the whole reason. He needed a cheerleader. Rah Rah Rape boom bah.
Audrina, now that she has finally figured out what took you and I less than a page to realize, is pretty upset! As one could imagine! So she runs out of the house and over to the grave of the First and Best Audrina (oh yeah, did I mention that part? As well as screwing with their kid’s headspace, Ma and Pa Adare actually PRETENDED TO BURY THEIR FIRST CHILD. And then made Audrina visit the grave EVERY WEEK.), and she tries to dig up the body, because she STILL DOESN’T GET IT, and Arden comes and they fight and then he starts raping her and, because this is a V.C. Andrews book, Audrina starts to like it, and then Audrina finally comes to terms with the fact that she’s the First and Best and Only Audrina.
ALSO Vera falls down the stairs and then it turns out she pushed everyone else and then she dies, hooray. But not before Damian and everyone find out that Vera told the boys that Audrina would be walking through the woods that day so, what? Now it’s all Vera’s fault? And not the fault of the three boys who, you know, RAPED HER?
So then, the story almost ends on a high (relative term) note, as Audrina prepares to leave her house and never speak to her father or Arden again. Only Sylvia won’t come with her, and then Audrina decides she should stay – WHERE SHE IS NEEDED – so she can take care of her awful father and her yellow-bellied, hideous husband. The end.
BFF Charm: Are You Fucking Kidding Me? No
Who would I possibly give my bff charm to? Vera? NO. Arden the asshole? Nein. Creepy Sylvia who may just be pretending to be a bit slow? I wouldn’t give her my charm, but I would want to invite her to dinner.
And I’m especially not giving it to Audrina, who is insufferable, and was even before she was raped.
Swoonworthy Scale: Seriously, Do You Even Go Here? -800
The following is the math for the swoonworthy scale:
- -50 points every time Vera sleeps with Arden (for a total of at least 200 points)
- -100 points for Damian Adare, who has sex with his wife, her sister, and his son-in-law’s mother
- -50 points for Audrina’s grown-ass music teacher sleeping with Vera
- -250 points for the endless depiction of Audrina’s rape
- -300 points for Arden, who happens to know that his girlfriend/wife is a rape victim b/c HE WAS THERE, and then not only A) participates in the deception that she is two years younger but also B) totally treats Audrina like a paid professional in the bedroom and has absolutely no concern for her feelings or wants or needs. Fuck you, Arden.
Talky Talk: Typical V.C. Andrews’ 70s Creepster Pedantic Monotonous Bullshit
All V.C. Andrews books read the same. Lots of flowery language, purple prose, and the repeated hammering in of certain themes (sex is wrong unless you are feeling guilty about it) and motifs (motherfuckin’ attics, and also Jesus).
Here are some quotes. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
There was something strange about the house where I grew up. There were shadows on the corners and whispers on the stairs and time was as irrelevant as honesty.
Something about the woods – something about the way the sun shone through the leaves. Colors were trying to speak to me, tell me what I couldn’t remember.
I know. I have the worst time trying to get colors to shut the hell up.
“Audrina, darlin’,” Billie went on, holding me against her firm, full breasts …
EW STOP THINKING ABOUT YOUR MOTHER IN LAW’S TITS.
Anti-Bonus Factor: Rape
Why does every single V.C. Andrews book have to include rape? WHY? Well, I know WHY – sex is wrong! So the only way to include it is if the girl isn’t willing! – but STILL. And this rape is even worse (if rape can be quantified, which I don’t think it can be), because I had to read an endless description about how three boys held down a NINE YEAR OLD and mass-raped her. Fucking excellent, V.C. Andrews. Thank you so much for that. I still have the scars on my psyche from reading this as a twelve year old – especially the scene in which Lucky scrubs Audrina raw, trying to “cleanse her” afterwards. Jesus, no wonder Audrina is so fucked up.
Anti-Bonus Factor: Statutory Rape
One awful sex scene isn’t enough, kids! We also have to spend some time on the pervy music teacher who A) stares at Audrina’s chest a lot and B) has sex, repeatedly, with Vera, who is 15 at the time. Brilliant. I am totally joining a nunnery.
Anti-Bonus Factor: Miscarriages
Lord, it isn’t a V.C. Andrews novel without at least one ill-begotten hellspawn miscarrying, but this one is the WORST. I’m just going to quote the whole scene to you so that you can see why:
We arrived in time to see Vera crawling on the floor, drenched with her own blood by now and still bleeding as she pawed through the congealing pools of blood, crying out, “The baby . . . I’ve lost my baby. . . ” Wild and distraught looking, she raised her head when we entered the room. I hugged Sylvia closer.
“Were you pregnant?” asked my aunt coldly, doing nothing to help her daughter.
“Yes!” screamed Vera, still feeling around in the blood. “I’ve got to have that baby! I’ve got to! I need that baby! It’s my ticket out of this hellhole, and now it’s gone. Help me, Momma, help me save my baby!”
My aunt glanced down at all the blood. “If you’ve lost it, better so.”
Demented looking, Vera’s eyes went wild and her fingers curled around one huge clot of blood that she hurled at her mother. It struck my aunt’s apron and fell to the floor with a sickening thump.
God, I hope no one from MTV reads this book, or I have a feeling that 16 and Pregnant is about to get even more awful.
Anti-Bonus Factor: Creepy Parents
Another V.C. Andrews tome; another set of creepy-ass parents who do not understand the concept of “cutting the cord.” (Unless, I presume, they are cutting it with their teeth. And then using the cord blood to bathe in, or something.)
What is with this crazy lady, that all of the parents she writes are just as, if not more so, crazy as she is. I can only suspect that her parents were also batshit insane. Here is what I imagine happened on a daily basis in V.C.’s house:
- “Mom! Dad! I am going to graduate kindergarten tomorrow! Will you come to my celebration?” “Sorry, Virginia, your father and I have to attend the Fourth Annual Nudists’ Rights Convention. In our living room. You will need to serve the hors d’oeurves.”
- “Dad! Little Johnny Walker pulled my hair at recess! Why is he so mean?” “Well, darling, sometimes when little boys pull a little girl’s hair on the playground, it actually means he wants to defile your purity by sticking his dingleberry in your hootenanny. You mustn’t ever let this happen, because if it does, you will be impure and I won’t receive the highest bride price. Now, go up to bed and have sweet dreams!”
- “Oh, mom! I think I just got my first period! It hurts and it’s messy and I feel like crying and then throwing something, even though I realize that’s irrational! What should I do?” “Go IMMEDIATELY to the attic and stay there until your curse is finished! Unclean! UNCLEAN!!! p.s. congrats on becoming a woman! don’t have sex.”
Anti-Bonus Factor: Anti-Feminism Patriarchal Bullshit
It pains me to say there were so many images to choose from, but . . . there were. I just went with ol’ T-Paw here to honor Megan No H, as she is from Minnesota. But really, it could have been anybody currently thinking of running for President on the RNC platform!
I don’t think I’ve read a book that involved more misogynist, patriarchal douchey behavior than this book does. And I once read that Tucker Max book.
Anti-Bonus Factor: Wind Chimes
Yeah, I don’t know. Audrina is afraid of wind chimes? I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense to me, either. For a girl who is living with a crazed, egotistical father, a slightly vacant mother who holds tea times for her dead, cannibalized aunt, an older cousin/sister who torments her all the time and the rocking chair of rape flashbacks, she sure is het up over some damn dangly metal tubes which provide cheerful musical sounds.
Anti-Bonus Factor: Ableist Nonsense
Oh mah gawd! The things these assholes would say about Sylvia, their CHILD/SISTER/NIECE/SISTER-IN-LAW. What kind of assholes ARE these people? Well, I know what kind they are – they are that special brand of V.C. Andrews Assholes™ – but STILL. And don’t give me that, “Well, it was a different tiiiiiime” bullshit, either. It is never appropriate to be a dick to someone and to call them names and belittle them for things that they cannot change.
Unless that someone is Chad Michael Murray. I mean, I think he’s earned it.
Anti-Bonus Factor: Milk Carton Vaginas
Listen up, world. Especially you, Virginia Christine, or whatever your real name is. Vaginas are not like milk cartons. There’s no sell-by date. They don’t go bad. They don’t need to be pasteurized and kept pure. They aren’t in need of refrigeration in cold, sterile, dark places. If someone else opens it up, it doesn’t lose its value or its ability to keep things fresh. It doesn’t need to be returned to the store if you find someone else has tampered with it. It’s still good. It’s not gross or weird if someone before you put his or her mouth on the vagina.
Okay? Got it? Good.
Relationship Status: There Isn’t Enough Vodka In the World
I read this book when I was twelve, and it stood out (along with Ruby) as one of my “favorite” V.C. Andrews novels. I mean, “favorite” is a relative term, obviously. But I remember it being SUPER EXCITING. I thought that picking up this book again would be a fun way to pass the time on my flight to Russia. At the very least, I thought, it’d be HILARIOUS to show up in Business Class with a tattered copy of My Sweet Audrina, whilst politely requesting another mimosa.
That hilarity lasted for about ten minutes. Soon, I had to start requesting that the Singapore Girl (that’s her title; I didn’t make that up) bring me gin-and-champers cocktails to dull the pain. But it was never dulled. Never. Eventually I put the book away and watched that awful movie where Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman bone each other a lot and get conflicted about it, because they are both dumb and don’t understand how fuck buddies work, and I had thought that watching that movie would make the book better in comparison. It didn’t. Nothing is worse than this book. Look, I haven’t eaten a meal with vegetables in it for a week, my hotel smells vaguely of poisonous gas, my kidneys hurt and I’ve been running a fever for four days. And none of that is worse than reading this book was. In fact, the book might have caused the fever. I don’t know if that’s possible, but maybe it is, and maybe that’s what happened. I don’t have a medical degree, but I think I could be right.
I thought when I got to Russia, I could just drink away the pain with vodka, but I’ve yet to find my limit. There is no limit. There is not enough vodka in the world to make this boring-ass book fun. I don’t know what kind of magical thrall this book held over me when I was twelve, but I wish to God that thrall would come back. As it is, I’m wondering if I could use this book for kindling, but I suspect it’s so dull that the flames would refuse to catch.
FTC Full Disclosure: I got this book from the library, and if it isn’t glaringly obvious, I did not receive money or cocktails in exchange for this review.