I had a difficult time remembering which book was my "first adult" book. Originally, I thought it was something by Danielle Steel. However, after searching my memories, I have to say it was "Flowers In The Attic" by V.C. Andrew. I was introduced to this author by my best friend at the time. We lived out in the country on one of the few roads that actually had houses built fairly close to one another, but still had some land. I think we had about an acre and a half all told. My friend lived two doors away. She knew that I liked to read and since I didn't go anywhere very much, she suggested that I try reading this book. It was something different than the usual Harlequin romance novels I was reading, and I thought, why not?
The book was published in 1979 and I was 15 years old. I had no idea what I was getting into...
From the very beginning, I was capitivated. The story is about the four Dollanganger children who had the perfect life, until their father was tragically killed in an automobile accident. When their mother could no longer support the family, she had to write home o convince her own mother to let her and the children to come home to the family homestead. The mother, Corrine, knows that her rich parents are the answer to the financial woes and promises the children that everything will be alright. The grandfather knows nothing of the children so the four of them, Cathy, Chris, Cory and Carrie, must hide in house away from the heartless man. In the meantime, Corrine must win back her father's love before he dies as he disowned her when she was young. She knows this is the only way to inherit the family fortune.
Under the cloak of darkness, they arrive at the family mansion and the children are placed in a room upstairs near the attic. This is where they stayed...for years.
As the story moves on, the children get older and they find out that their father was actually their grandfather's half-brother. Their grandmother is mean and abuses them both physically and emotionally. Their once beloved mother loses interest in them and stops coming to visit altogether. The two older children become parents to the younger ones.
I won't give away anymore of the storyline in case someone wants to read the novel. I will say that at the time, this book and the entire series was popular.
I think about what I read now and am dumbfounded by the idea that anyone could treat their children this way. But I have to remember that it is just a story and at the time it was written, it spoke about things that were never, if ever, discussed. It was also a foreshadow of things to come...
My life forever changed after reading this book because it was my friend's way of telling me that something awful was happening to her. She finally confided in me and told me everything. I was no longer an innocent teenager. I never told anyone what I knew although years later, I did hint to my own mother some of what happened. My husband knows everything. Despite the fact that I grew up and got past the knowledge of what I was told, I moved on to make something of myself. My friend tried to do the same, but she never had the life that I had wanted or hoped for her.
After I got married, we spoke to each other via the phone as often as possible. But I knew something was wrong. She was broken inside. No matter how much I tried to help her, she suffered in more ways than I could count. There's only so much a person can do to help someone else, especially when that person can't help themself first. I can't tell you how many times I cried after I got off the phone with her. As such, I haven't spoken with her in a really long time. The pain I feel for her is too great.
I don't live near my friend anymore. In fact, I am 2000+ miles away. Today, it is not the distance that keeps us apart despite the fact that phones and the advent of social networking could reconnect us. It's simply because she is no longer the person I once knew and there is nothing more that I can do to help her. It is one of the biggest and saddest disappointments of my life.