Pardon me for not writing very much lately...I've been keeping my nose in book after book. I've been addicted to a series of novels that my brother-in-law teased me for not reading YEARS ago.
I've head about the "Flowers in the Attic" books, but I had never read them, not until I stood in an aisle at Half Price Books and began to sift through several of V.C. Andrews books. I wondered if Andrews was a male or female. The answer was soon revealed in her later published books with her name Virginia Andrews as the author.
And I realized the reason I had not read "Flowers in the Attic" when I was younger...for I was only eleven years old when this book was published, not exactly prime reading material for a child of that age.
Standing in Half Price Books, I noticed there was ONE book left on the shelf, titled, "Garden of Shadows." "Garden of Shadows" had been written as a prequel to "Flowers in the Attic," so I grabbed up that solitary battered book with that title and added it to my basket growing heavy with many books by Andrews.
I have now read of this series...
"Garden of Shadows"
"Flowers in the Attic"
"Petals on the Wind"
and I am now finishing, "If There Be Thorns."
However, there are more books written by this author and I am going to Half Price Books to get ALL that I can find, tomorrow.
I don't want to give away the meat of these books, so don't read anything about them on-line because it is amazing to read it first-hand and to feel the story unraveling. I can say that these books have held me spellbound.
As I read "Flowers in the Attic," I told myself that this kind of story is so outlandish that it had to be based upon real-life circumstances. Only real-life could be so crazy. Then, I discover, the story of "Flowers in the Attic" is indeed based on a true story. It's disputed, but Virginia Andrews stated it had been based on a true story...the length of the attic-time-frame had actually been six years.
So, for the past couple of weeks, I've been reading these books. At my age, I've discovered that it takes me longer to read a book. Years ago, I'd eat-up a novel's words within two days time. These days, I find my eyes passing over printed words with more delicacy, as if I've learned to savor each line, sometimes having to reread the same line several times to let it soak into my own thoughts. Even so, this series has been difficult to feast upon, yet I keep going back for more.
It sickens me.
It disturbs me.
It haunts me.
Yet, even now, as I welcome two little girls into my home who've been cast into the CPS system due to their own home-of-horrors, I know such distorted family dynamics can be a reality for some people.
Even so, there is no "perfect" family out there to be found. Imperfect people form imperfect families and this is the truth of life. Our own imperfections give us the very reason we should be compassionate with the imperfections of others. The moment we become hardened and crass toward others in our desperate attempt to make others into our idea of what is acceptable, we have become unacceptable ourselves.
Still, this is also the reason we should try to give the BEST of ourselves to others. Giving our best is not play-acting, it is offering the side of ourselves that is above our own set of problems and above unrealistic expectations of others. If we all tried to give our BEST, then our discord would be reduced. However, when you don't get the best from someone, the solution is not in becoming worse than what you are despising. Lord knows I've travelled a bit down this road to discover this for myself. The old saying, "If you can't beat them, join them" is not always the best path, unless you want to veer toward self-destruction and become what you struggle against. Worse, you might become a darker version of what you fear.
"Flowers in the Attic" is the start of showing the destruction this kind of thinking can cause for the one who is hurting and lashing out. It seems the whip always cracks back around to injury the one controlling it, no matter the reason.
These books make you realize that the "normal" family full of fights, disagreements, and even of betrayal, is still not anything past ordinary human behavior. However, some people can cross the line of selfishness as they wander into truly evil territory. That's the devastation of "Flowers in the Attic" for the reader...that such evil can exist and seek to destroy lives, even the lives of innocent children.
Sadly, the author, Virginia Andrews, died in 1986, but the book "Flowers in the Attic" was an immediate best-seller of 1979 and was made into a movie that had been terribly altered from the novel's key points, mostly because the content of the novel was too harsh to put on the big screen. However, there are supposed talks in Hollywood these days of re-making the movie to actually follow the novel. I will watch the old version, but I know it will be disappointing. Originally, Wes Craven was set to produce the movie back in 1979, but script changes caused all kinds of uproars and a fierce departure from the book resulted with the film. However, in this old version of the movie, the author has a cameo part of a maid scrubbing a window clean, and I will mainly watch it to honor the author of these books.
Of course, as always, a movie cannot ever capture the depth of a book because the details are usually described with precision and revelations are made that cannot always be included in a movie due to time constraints. If I don't read the book, I always feel cheated of storyline.
So, tonight I will be finishing the last few pages of "If There Be Thorns," and I will be sad for all children who experience consecutive horrors that would make most of our childhoods seem dreamy. Heck, all of us have our own little horror stories, but I am so darn grateful to have had a nutty household during my childhood that never went beyond hurt feelings and frustration at one another, even though we endured more than our fair share of mighty fierce belt whippings. Still, it was not all that bad. In fact, after reading "Flowers in the Attic," in comparison, I can say my childhood was outstanding. I feel rather elated to have had such a great childhood of immense freedom for being outdoors was my true treasure while growing up.
If you haven't read this series, be sure to find an old version of "Garden of Shadows," because it leads up to the story that is "Flowers in the Attic."
And, prepare to find it difficult to put down these books.