Sunday, October 30, 2011

review: family storms by v.c. andrews

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Way back in middle school (yes, middle school), I devoured all the books written by V.C. Andrews and then moved onto the ones written by the ghostwriter hired by her estate. For the most part, the ghostwriter (Andrew Neiderman) retread the same themes of various atrocities (although I’m pretty sure that one was always rape) befalling a teen girl.

The newer books are in shorter series—two or three books rather than five—and seem less debauched. Family Storms wasn’t too unrealistic in the horrors that transpired. I doubt I’ll ever meet a person who was forced to live in a small room, fed arsenic-laced doughnuts, and then was raped by her own brother while still trapped in that attic (Flowers in the Attic); but it’s reasonable to think something similar to what happens to Sasha in Family Storms could really occur. When Sasha’s father leaves the family, her mother tries to maintain their already struggling existence, but ends up spiraling into alcoholism. Out on the streets, Sasha and her mother are hit by a car; Sasha’s mother is killed instantly, but Sasha survives with a broken leg. The driver is the daughter of a wealthy family who take Sasha in, partly to punish their daughter, but also so Sasha can serve as a replacement for their favored daughter who died of cancer. The formerly destitute Sasha struggles to fit in at her new private school and falls into a trap that results (spoiler, but you knew this was coming) in her rape when she too eagerly embraces her new “friends.” Tragic, yes, but not the complete insanity of something like My Sweet Audrina that had a girl believing her imaginary older sister of the same name was the one who was raped.

The plot was interesting and, as I said, far more realistic than previous titles from V.C. Andrews, but character development was either weak or a little off. The woman who takes Sasha in received an excellent education, but she has this short conversation with Sasha:

“No, my mother wouldn’t beg. She sold her calligraphy, and I sold lanyard key chains [sic] on the beach. I made them myself.”
“It’s Chinese writing.”
“Oh, yes.” She smiled.
Calligraphy is commonly used for wedding invitations, so Jordan March should be familiar with the concept even if she wasn’t aware of the Chinese version. Later her husband reveals she once bought some calligraphy while they were on vacation which means Jordan sounds even stupider in that conversation. Throughout the book, Jordan seemed na├»ve or somehow uneducated despite her background. Sasha, on the other hand, was always waxing on philosophically which seemed quite unnatural given her character’s age and background.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Pocket Star Books.

1 comment:

  1. I had friends who devoured those 'back then' as well! I always thought they looked too scary.