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Flowers in the Attic: "Growing Up, Growing Wiser"

Maggie Mae

431 views

PART TWO. 

Apparently, I don't have enough to do at work, so I'm back. Or I just really like the external validation I get from the compliments of my snarky recaps of a book that was written around the time that Brett Kavanaugh was sexually assaulting teenage girls. BTW, I really do enjoy compliments on my typo-riddled column, or articles, or whatever you think these should be classified as. 

Part Two starts off with a quote from The Song of Solomon, verse two, chapter 17. For those of you who are familiar with this particular scroll, it's weird, its sexual, and its supposedly an allegory of the relationship between God and and Israel, or the Church and Christ, depending on your denomination. Personally, I think it was a rough draft of an early romantic novel that got mixed in with real scrolls. Her neck is like the Tower of David, she smells of Lebanon. Real steamy stuff. Blow on my garden, my breasts are like fawns. Seriously, most repressed kids in religious schools know all about the Song of Songs. I think VC Andrews found the one verse that doesn't really work with her text. I mean, she could have gone with His arms are rods of gold, set with topaz. His body is like polished ivory, decorated with lapis lazuli.His legs are pillars of marble set on bases of pure gold.

Maybe I'll recap Song of Songs in the future. It has no real plot, though.

Chapter 1 of Part Two is called "Growing Up, Growing Wiser." We'll see. 

Another year passed. That's is. Another year passed. Mother comes less. (Are we still doing phrasing?) Every night they  mark off the date in a calendar. How old is everyone now? Oh, no worries. They have three calendars full. So they've been living in an attic for three years. Three years without school, without friends, without proper cleaning (they are washing clothes and sheets in the bathroom!). 

Cathy and Chris are immodest, because "grandmother's wrath had not yet materialized" ... then why are they so willing to stay in the attic? I'd think at some point they would just slip up and go downstairs because of an emergency. That's what kids do! They get hurt and they go find their mom. 

Quote

It was difficult to live, day in, day out, and always keep the intimate places of our bodies secret from the other sex. 

It's not that difficult. Really. Ask the Maxwells. 

Cathy finds a time when she's alone to inspect her body in the mirror. If anyone read Madonna's memoirs, her account of looking at her pussy is much more fun. Cathy is a weirdo. 

Quote

Incredible the changes hormones brought about! Certainly I was much prettier than when I came here, even my face, my hair, my legs - much less that curvy body. From side to side I twisted, keeping my eyes glued to my reflection as I performed ballet positions. 

Her brother is spying on her! Oh, god. 

Quote

He stood as one frozen. A queer look glazed his blue eyes, as if he'd never seen me before without my clothes on - and he had, many a time. Perhaps when the twins were there, sunbathing with us, he kept his thoughts brotherly and pure, and didn't really stare. 

His eyes lowered from my flushed face down to my breasts, then lower, and lower, and down to my feet before they traveled upward ever so slowly. 

Who is the target audience for this? Middle aged women? Teenage girls? Teen boys? My grandmother? I have no idea. 

They stare at each other for several paragraphs of absolutely ridiculous writing. There is trembling. There is copious use of a thesaurus. There are metaphors.  There are rippling sensations and Chris uses the mirror to get the full view. I regret my lunch, because fries are never good when vomiting. Cathy reaches for her dress and Chris is like "no, don't." There is more trembling. 

I bet no one here can guess what happens next. 

(cue the music) 

It's Grandmother! I bet you never saw that coming. And she is pissed. "Sinners!" 

Oooh Chris is standing up the Grandmother. It's about time. But, like many many men in the US, he decided to take out his anger and embarrassment on the nearest young woman, who happens to be his sister. 

Quote

A wild, distraught look came upon him, making him seem older and terribly violent.

Leave. Leave the room, Cathy. Climb out the attic, signal a servant, shimmy down the chimney, figure it out. Check the door every single time. Make a rope out of sheets. Maybe you'll get paralyzed, ala Pollyanna, but at least save your sister and brother. Start dropping notes out the windows; do something. Playing pretty princess in a tower is just pathetic. 

Grandmother comes back with scissors. 

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My worst fear! I'd rather be whipped! My skin would heal, but it would take years and years and years to grow back the beautiful long hair I've cherished since Daddy first said it was pretty, and he liked long hair on little girls. Oh, dear God, how could she know that almost every night I dreamed she stole into this room while I slept and sheared me as one does a sheep? And sometimes I dreamed not only did I wake up in the mornings bald and ugly but she cut off my breasts, too!

The choice is theirs: No food or milk for an entire week, or Cathy's hair. 

Chris is holding a chair, threatening the Grandmother. Just hit her with it and get out the door! Grandmother ups the ante by threatening two weeks without food if Cathy hides or locks herself in the bathroom. Then decides to make Chris do the shearing. She'll be back. 

Who thinks of this kind of torment? 

Cathy has nightmares that night. And she wakes up, feeling drugged, and her hair is gone. Chris finds "a small red prick" on her arm and tells her to stop screaming. Shut. Up. Scream all you want, Cathy. If someone has injected you with who knows what and shaved your head, you deserve to scream. Oh, and she didn't cut the hair, she poured tar on her head. While she shared a bed with her little sister. And Chris is telling her not to scream and upset the twins. Fuck that. Scream. Make a scene. Let the cleaning staff know that you are being abused, next Friday. Stop hiding away. 

I'm a bit confused about how she's not suffering from burns, but whatever. Carrie wakes up and insults her sister's new hairstyle. And cries and cries, and everyone tries to calm her down. 

Chris and Cathy try to wash her hair.

In the middle of him deciding he needs to go try out some chemical compound from his chemistry set, he also has to pee. And we are "treated" to this:

 

Quote

The light from the ceiling caught on the soft downy fuzz that covered his upper lip, and I knew he had stronger, darker hair on the lower part of his body, the same I did.

Cathy is disturbed that he also suggests that she "go" in the water as well, hoping that the ammonia might unglue the hair. The twins come in while she poetically contemplates her nightmarish day and I wonder if I missed something in my reading because I can't tell if he peed on her or not. 

She lies to the twins. I don't know how I feel about that. Nothing is normal in their life, and I get they want to protect them, but at the same time, this is not normal. Don't normalize it. It's wrong. 

Carrie's response to being told to go away is "don't you like me no more?" and Cathy corrects her grammar. Therapy and school! ASAP. 

Cathy's hair is thinner and platinum now. Chris brushes it. Her hair "gleams" and feels like "gossamer silk" Chris sleeps in a chair propped up against the door, holding the scissors. He should keep those scissors, he might need a weapon. 

They ate the crackers. Cathy cuts her hair. The grandmother doesn't come. They ran out of food, clean linens, towels, soap, and toothpaste. The toilet overflows because they are using paper from old books. Then they used old clothes from the attic to mop up the filth from the toilet. 

After who knows how long, Chris feeds his siblings blood from his wrist. 

Cathy finally decides that she hates her mother for doing this to them. 

After two weeks, or so, they head up to the attic to find a way out. They debate on eating some mice. For some reason, they went full vampire before eating the mice, which seems unreal to me. While christopher is going to get spices for the raw mice (and I gag in my office), Cathy blathers on for several paragraphs. I'm bored. I just got out of an extremely boring two hour meeting and now I'm bored in a very different way. Maybe I should write a book on the types of boredom. The first, being the "i can not stay awake while you discuss the same thing again that I really don't care about" the second being "I have so much money that I go to Russia and ask prostitutes to pee on me because I've done just about everything I can imagine in my tiny brain" and then there is "I'm reading a book written before I was born and it's got a semi-interesting plot but the worst writing I've ever imagined, outside of a random canadian who pretended to be a Serbian guard on the internet" 

Guess what! They don't have to eat the mice! Christopher comes back with a basket which contains the following: vegetable soup, milk, sandwiches, and (dum dum duhhhh) powdered donuts! 

Since I moved out of the city and into a community with a community well, I've learned more about arsenic than I ever thought I would need to know. It's naturally forming and really common. Get your wells tested! Most wells will have some, at least in my area. But there's a limit to how much is acceptable, and how much is lethal. 

Do we ever find out where they got the poison and is it arsenic? There are so many types of arsenic. 

Cathy has decided that Chris and herself are the genuine parents of Carrie and Cory. That's not how it works, Cathy. 

So they head back downstairs, and she immediately goes for the mirror. It's gone! OH NO SHE CANT LOOK AT HERSELF. And low and behold, ALL THE MIRRORS ARE GONE. It's a tragedy, way more traumatic than literally drinking your brothers blood. 

HOLY SHITSNACKS 

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Chris, in your opinion, what percentage of teen-aged girls in the world have gone to bed with clean, shining hair and awakened a tar baby?

I feel gross just typing that. 

There's more. And a reminder that they had friends. 

Quote

Oh, I don't know about that. Remember when they were putting down asphalt on our street? Mary Lou Baker and I turned over a huge tub of that stuff, and we made little tar babies, and put black beds in black houses, and the man in charge of the street repair gang came along and bawled us out. 

Then Chris reminds her that she came home filthy dirty and chewing on tar to make her teeth whiter. OK. I guess maybe she didn't mean it in a racist way but I'm not totally sure. Gross. 

Chris talks about playing monopoly and the loser has to wash everyone's underwear in the bathtub. Ugh. It was the 50s. I have no idea when washing machines were invented, but it's a very useful appliance. 

They lose the twins and find them behind the tv. IDK. 

Cathy forfeits the Monopoly game and goes upstairs to dance. What a remarkable recovery from starvation. 

And then we get several paragraphs about monopoly and it's an act break and I'm done with this entry. 

  • Upvote 6


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AliceInFundyland

Posted

I’m confused as to how the tar got out of her hair.

Also, how the hell did the tar get in her hair without making a mess of everything?  If it were on me it would end up on the other three kids, the furniture, linens, walls. That’s a full on chapter devoted to cleaning.

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HerNameIsBuffy

Posted

They had washing machines back then, but rarely in attics.

Quote

Who is the target audience for this? Middle aged women? Teenage girls? Teen boys? My grandmother? I have no idea. 

Def not my gramma, that I know.

As we talked about in chat - the tar pouring defies the laws of physics and this thing is creepy enough without him peeing on her...which he totally did.

 

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FloraDoraDolly

Posted

5 hours ago, AliceInFundyland said:

I’m confused as to how the tar got out of her hair.

Also, how the hell did the tar get in her hair without making a mess of everything?  If it were on me it would end up on the other three kids, the furniture, linens, walls. That’s a full on chapter devoted to cleaning.

IIRC, Chris got the tar out with his chemistry set. As for how the grandmother managed to transport it, I don't know. I assume she had a bucket full of the stuff?

Somewhere I read that in real life VC Andrews did end up with tar in her hair. Maybe she played around in some road construction the way Cathy and her pre-attic friend did? Anyhow, I am guessing that this is one of those things that happens to a writer in real life and then a twisted version of it turns up in the writer's book.

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clueliss

Posted

Adult me is asking 9th grade or so me why the hell we read the rest of the books in this series because this is just drek.  

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AnywhereButHere

Posted

Your recaps are back! I'm so excited! I'm actually more excited for the recaps than I was for the new books back in the day. :pb_lol: I'm just back from vacation, and reading these are so much more fun than, you know, actually working.

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JordynDarby5

Posted

How did she transport the tar? No one noticed Grandmother walking around with a tar? 

I love how only now she hates her mother. Not any time in the THREE YEARS she's been locked in a room with her brothers and sister. What took so long Cathy? Its been clearly early on your mother didn't care anymore about her kids. 

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