Recently I read two books that I’ve been hearing about for a long time, but never read in my youth, when I was apparently supposed to.
Judy Blume is a goddess of YA Lit, with a ton of good titles under her belt. Forever… is lauded, and rightfully so, mostly by us liberals who like that it depicts a teenaged couple, who has sex, responsibly, and doesn’t have something horrific happen to them, whether as actual punishment or as might-as-well-be punishment. I believe there are other YA books that do that now, but they’re still few in number, generally speaking, and, this one first came out in 1975, so it was groundbreaking.
It’s an easy, quick read, simply written. This is your average teenaged couple, borderline boring, honestly, if they were actual people. These are not the witty characters from more modern YA novels. But they are in love, and it’s sweet, and they’re responsible, using condoms at first, and later birth control. and their parents DO care about them, they’re just not overly strict, and they help their kids make their own decisions in a smart way. (At least, the girl’s parents do. We get very little from the guy’s parents, though we’re told they’re a bit stricter than hers.)
And, spoiler, though they are in love and they have sex, the “forever…” is trailing because they are young, and their lives take different paths, and it’s not happily ever after but it’s not the end of the world.
Now, Flowers in the Attic is a whole other ball game, kids. I knew that it wasn’t as wholesome as some other things, but I didn’t really know that much about it going in. It is all kinds of effed up, you guys. But that’s why it’s a compelling story!
Dad dies, leaves mom and four kids. Mom has been a housewife this whole time, has no workplace skills, and therefore, no way to support herself and her children (especially given the unnecessary luxuries they indulged in when dad was alive); grandparents are super rich, but mom’s been disowned/disinherited. The plan is to hide the kids while mom tries to get back into granddad’s good graces. Grandma is in on the plan, but Lord, if that woman ain’t psycho evil. Kids are locked up in, you guessed it, the attic, only it’s sort of an upper story bedroom with a closet and door that leads to the attic. Still, they’re shut up and shut out.
Grandma brings food every day, and mom comes to visit, every day at first, and then less frequently as time goes on. Mom provides tons of BS about why it’s taking so long for her to fix everything and get the kids out, though she keeps bringing them tons of presents and is always wearing nice new clothes and fancy jewelry.
Things escalate, mom hides a lot of things, but what you want to know is that the two older kids are, I believe, a 12 year old girl and 14 year old boy going in, 15 and 17 by the time they get out. They’ve got some budding urges, and no place or person to direct them toward. Well, no place or person APPROPRIATE.
So there’s that. It certainly draws you in. Even without that last bit, I think I would have been interested, but of course the scandalous nature makes it better. I’m unsure whether or not I will continue with the series – mostly just wanted to see what the fuss was about. Of course, it was all brought up again in the last year because I guess they made a TV movie of it? Probably won’t watch that one.