It’s been a while since my last Grown-Ass V.C. Andrews Review. My intention was to read the entire Landry series before the Lifetime movies came out but my ability to read has been rather hit and miss this year. (I did read Ruby but watching the movies in that short burst was too much Landry for me to handle, so I will get back to the books eventually.) Nevertheless, after my recent horrendous novel rejection, I figured it was time for something nostalgic, and so I chose to read My Sweet Audrina:
V.C. Andrews, author of the phenomenally successful Dollanganger series, has created a fascinating new cast of characters in this haunting story of love and deceit, innocence and betrayal, and the suffocating power of parental love.
Audrina Adare wanted so to be as good as her sister. She knew her father could not love her as he loved her sister. Her sister was so special, so perfect — and dead.
Now she will come face to face with the dangerous, terrifying secret that everyone knows. Everyone except…
My Sweet Audrina
Note: This summary is from the paperback copy of the book.
About My Sweet Audrina
Penned by V.C. Andrews herself, My Sweet Audrina was first published in 1982 and served for the longest time as Andrews’ sole standalone book. (In 2016, Neiderman wrote and published the sequel Whitefern, which I haven’t heard any good things about. The negative reviews make me quite excited, however, as I find the Neiderman books a lot more fun to review.)
My Sweet Audrina seems very heavily inspired by elements of Andrews’ life. Audrina’s isolation (as well as Billie’s) mirrors some of Virginia’s own isolation from being confined to a wheelchair. According to Wikipedia, Vera’s frequent falls down the stairs were also inspired by Virgina’s own fall down a school staircase.
On a personal note, My Sweet Audrina TERRIFIED my 14-year-old diabetic ass for years that a minor cut would cause my legs to get infected and they’d need to get cut off.
My Copy of My Sweet Audrina
I purchased a hardcover of My Sweet Audrina a few years back, which was the one I read for this review. When a good-condition stepback cover revealed itself to me on ebay, however, I found myself unable to resist the temptation, and so I bought it simply for the sake of having a classic stepback for this review’s header photo.
When I think of my favourite stepback cover designs, for some reason I never thought much about My Sweet Audrina. The earlier covers are much more minimalistic, but when you take the time to look into the details there is just so much that the artist got right. The cupola? the red tin roof? The spiderwebs in the windows? It all works so well at luring you in and there’s so much to appreciate in a cover that borrows from actual aspects of the book, as opposed to today’s cheap stock photo renderings.
Behind the cover, a young Audrina sits in her rocking chair among her toys. Her father, Damian, stands behind in the shadows. It’s cheesy but the subtle reference of the spider webs
Of note is also the hardcover design, which features Audrina’s colour-changing hair tangled into a spiderweb. It’s a gorgeous illustration that ties well with Andrews’ prose.
My Sweet Audrina: The Grown-Ass V.C. Andrews Review
As I mentioned, I first read My Sweet Audrina when I was 14-15. I only managed to read a handful of V.C. Andrews books in my teens before they started to bore me, but My Sweet Audrina was my absolute favourite. It sucked me right in. But that was naive Rebecca. Virgin Rebecca. Judging-all-her-friends-for having-sex Rebecca. That particular Rebecca found herself fully encompassed into Audrina’s psyche and I pretty much felt everything that Audrina felt, except maybe her complete inability to see the utter creepiness of her dad, but we’ll get to that.
An Innocent & Pretty, Yet Completely Naive Female Protagonist
Okay, so I know that Cathy Dollenganger was V.C. Andrews’ first naive protagonist but I feel like Audrina fits the stereotype better. She starts off the story younger, dumber. She lives in a run-down house, Whitefern, with her parents, Damien and Lucietta (Lucky) Adare, her aunt Ellsbeth, and her cousin Vera. Her parents named Audrina after her older sister, who died when a bunch of boys raped her beneath a tree in the woods a few years back.
For some reason, Audrina can never remember much of anything, but her father forces her to sit in the “First Audrina’s” rocking chair in order to, like, absorb her memories and powers and shit? Her swiss-cheese memory sucks up everything she once attained, which again, just works in a V.C. Andrews book. The longer a protagonist remains naive, the better she fits, and Audrina just REFUSES to ever learn anything throughout the book’s length.
This is foreshadowing:
I often went to bed feeling unhappy about my life, feeling an undercurrent that was pulling my feet from under me, and I was floundering, floundering, bound to sink and drown. It seemed I heard a voice whispering, telling me there were rivers to cross and places to go, but I’d never go anywhere. There were people to know and fun to have, but I wouldn’t experience any of that. I woke up and heard the tinkle of the whispering wind chimes telling me over and over that I belonged where I was, and here I would stay, forevermore, and nothing I did would matter in the long rung. Shivering, I hugged my arms over my thin chest. In my ears I heard Papa’s voice, saying over and over again, “This is where you belong, safe with Papa, safe in your home.”page 22
A Beloved Doting Paternal Figure
As the only man, Damian Adare plays a brooding and dominant role in the Whitefern household.
My papa, six-foot five and weighing well over two hundred pounds, was the tallest man I had ever seen, though Vera was always telling me there were many men who were taller, especially basketball players. Papa’s hair was the darkest black, looking blue sometimes in the sunlight. He had beautiful almond-shaped eyes, so brown they appeared black, and his lashes were so long and thick they appeared false, even though they weren’t.page 20
Later in the passage, she refers to his smooth, soft skin and his slick as oil eyes. He fears growing old and often checks his hairbrush for signs of greys. So you know, he fills in the vain mother role that Lucky doesn’t. This vanity, however, works for his character, as Damien spends most of his time trading stocks, at least that is, when he’s not forcing Audrina to do his dumb rocking chair ritual or LITERALLY BEATING THE SHIT OUT OF VERA, but we’ll get to that as well.
A Hostile Maternal Figure (+ Bonus Mean Girl!)
Audrina’s mother, Lucietta (Lucky) and her Aunt Ellsbeth (Ellie) play the two matrons of the Whitefern household. Lucky is the pretty & perfect mom and Ellie is the dowdy skinny shapeless bitchy one who can’t cook for shit and spends all her time watching soap operas. Which is… just great? By 80s standards?
Also lurking in the house is Aunt Ellsbeth’s bastard daughter, Vera, who serves as the default model for every single Bonus Mean Girl character that appears in every single V.C. Andrews book from then on. Damien treats Vera like shit, sometimes because she is a little shit, and sometimes because’s she’s just clearly the whipping child of the family. Vera’s single weakness, however, is her frail-ass bones, which affect her throughout the entire novel.
In her first scene, when she and Audrina fight over some dolls, Vera takes a tumble down the narrow stairs leading down from the attic:
I ran to where she lay in a crumpled heap. Her left leg was buckled under her in a grotesque way. It was the leg she’d broken twice before. I cringed to see a bit of jagged bone protruding through her torn flesh, which was gushing blood.page 30
“It’s your fault,” she moaned, in so much agony her pretty face was twisted and ugly. “It’s your fault for not giving me what I wanted. Always your fault, everything bad that happens to me, your fault. Somebody should give me what I want sometime.”
Later, after Damien’s medical insurance takes another plunge, a leg-casted Vera enters Audrina’s room with intentions to “educate” Audrina because neither Lucky nor Ellie will. (Audrina also doesn’t go to school for “protection” reasons, or is even allowed the leave the house, really.) Vera tosses a bag full of pictures onto the bed, which Audrina picks up, only to realize that the images are all cut-outs from porn magazines. Then Damien climbs up the stairs, but Audrina can’t hide the pictures because Vera’s covered them in glue and the pictures stick to her hands.
Which is… really fucked. Like primo adolescent horror, as well as some foreshadowing for what’s to come.
Then Damien enters and goes straight for Vera, demanding that she eat the fucking glue-covered cutouts. Vera refuses, so Damien then takes her to her room and takes the belt to her. Later, when Vera’s screams subside, Damien returns to take Audrina for a session in the rocking chair. He explains that Audrina having seen the photos is shameful. Then Audrina asks why “boys are dangerous for me and not for Vera”.
“Some girls are born to be what Vera is. Boys can sniff them out from miles away. That’s why I don’t bother about her. It wouldn’t do any good. It’s you I care about because it’s you I love. I used to be a boy, and I know how boys think. I’m sorry to say most boys cannot be trusted. That’s why you have to stay out of the woods, and close to home, and out of school, too. It’s dangerous for a beautiful, sensitive girl like you. It’s the kind fo woman you’ll grow up to be that will be the salvation of mankind. That’s why I struggle to save you and protect you from contamination.”page 43
This is how I picture Damien’s struggle:
Okay, so I understand that this is a whole lotta old-timey patriarchal mindset going on. Women were finally making some strides at the time this book was written. They could have credit cards and shit, but it’s pretty fucked that this whole “virgin”/”whore” concept still had such a stronghold, at least, in V.C. Andrews’ mind.
It’s impossible not to read her work and not feel lost in her psyche. For me, having grown up in a relatively conservative Christian mindset, having been indoctrinated in the idea of “saving oneself for marriage”, and having two of Joshua Harris’ books given to me in high school, I understand where she’s coming from. But now I’m a grown-ass woman and this shit is just so gross to me.
I mean, it makes Damien an interesting character in that he knows he’s awful and is pretty much utilizing the only good aspects of his character to keep his daughter safe, but then all this toxic masculinity makes him the creepiest dad ever.
A Tragic Death
Lucky announces to the family that she’s expecting a baby. She promised Audrina that the baby will become a friend to Audrina and that once the baby is born that Audrina won’t be lonely anymore. But as the months pass, the pregnancy takes it toll on Lucky. Later, when Lucky hires an old woman to perform the “ring gender test” to find out the baby’s sex. It takes forever, but the woman announces that the baby isn’t male or female. Damien pretty much beats the old woman and sends her out of the house.
This mystery baby thing is another V.C. Andrews trope. In Heaven, Sarah’s baby was born without genitals, which leaves me with more questions than answers about the V.C. Anchews psyche.
Anyway, after Lucky throws a big party in the house and Audrina finds herself admiring her perfect mom playing the piano for the guests. Audrina and Vera later stumble upon Damien beating the shit out of Lucky for being too much of an attention-whore. Damien discovers them watching, and then spanks Vera and apologizes to Audrina, saying that when he drinks too much he finds himself full of so much scorn that he feels like he needs to punish someone for it.
Which uh, is kind of legit in terms of abusive male behaviour, right? Anyway, Damien sends Audrina to bed with the promise that they will have no more parties.
I lay on my bed torn with doubts bout men, about marriage. I decided that night I’d never marry, not in one million years, not when all men coule be like Papa, wonderful and terrible. Deceitful and lovable and cruel even when he loved, wielding the belt in private, screaming abuse, criticizing, stealing self-confidence and instilling self-loathing and a deep sense of shame just for being female.
Perhaps Aunt Ellsbeth was right. Men were king of the mountains, king of the woods, king of the homea and office and everywhere — just before they were male.page 118
This is Audrina’s smartest point in the book, and we’re only a quarter of the way in, friends! There’s a baby coming and when Audrina wakes up the morning after the party, it’s her 9th’s birthday. It’s a rainy September morning, which only means one thing…
Aunt Ellsbeth burns some bacon and announces that Lucky broke out into contractions and Damien took her to the hospital. She was only in the 7th month of pregnancy, so Audrina worried about the baby surviving. Both Ellsbeth and Vera hardly give much of a shit.
Days later, Damien FINALLY comes home without Lucky or a baby. He begrudgingly tells Audrina that her mother died while in labour. But what of the baby, you ask? Well, her name is Sylvia and she’s a preemie who spends the first two years of her life in a hospital incubator before Damien finally brings her home.
My Sweet Audrina contains no incest, so I’m just gonna use this section to discuss Arden, the neighbour boy who lives in the cottage across the woods with his mother, Billie. By this point, Arden and Audrina have established a good friendship. He buys her birthday presents and claims to love her. However, Damien frequently dismisses thier relatinoship and tries to forbid Audrina from spending time with him.
I remember loving Arden when I read this book as a kid. He proved himself kind and sweet and one of the only lights in Audrina’s life. I felt every betrayl that he laid upon her, but now, as an adult, I think he’s a weaksauce beta piece of shit, especially when he claims to “love” Audrina and then can’t help his “boys will be boys” ways when Vera starts flirting it up with him.
Here’s a scene that takes place after Vera “forces” Arden to teach her how to drive his old car. Then they head down to the river for a swim. This is but one example of a scene that ruined me with rage in my teenage years:
I turned to see Arden staring at Vera in her skimpy bikini. The tree little triancles were bright green and very flattering to her hair color. Her pale skin had tanned to a light copper shade, and even I had to admit she looked extremely pretty. Already she’d developed a woman’s figure, with high, full breats that jutted out that little-nothing green bra. My chest was still flat as a pan bottom.page 172
Vera strolled closer to Arden with a lighter green towel thrown casually over her shoulder. Her hips undulated. Apparently the fascination of watching them move like that made Arden forget all about me. “I’m terribly tired after all that driving, and the long hike here. Arden, would you mind helping me down the incline?”
He hurried to assist her down the gentle slope, which I knew she could manage perfectly well. For some reason he couldn’t seem to let go of her waist or arm. His fingers on her upper arm just brushed thw swelling contours of her new bosom. I flushed with anger when she smiled up into his eyes.
Grown-ass woman Rebecca realizes that Vera’s obviously just manipulating a clueless Arden. This becomes even more obvious when Vera unties her bikini top, lays down and asks Arden to put suntan lotion on her back.
“Stop glaring at me, “Audrina. I won’t show anything if I don’t move too quickly Not that Arden hasn’t seen naked boobs before.” She grinned when he jerked away and looked surprised—and guilty. Still he knelt down to untie her bra, and even if he looked embarrassed and awkward, he managed to smear some of that oil on her back—and a darn long time it took him to do it, too.page 173
It was taking too long. I thought his hands lingered unnecessarily long in certain places. He appeared so excited his hands trembled. Furious with him, with Vera, I jumped up and ran all the way home, hating them both.
Throughout the entire book, Vera pulls these stunts to prove just how naive Audrina is, which a part of me kind of understands now? Like, obviously Vera is awful but she’s also an abused little girl who sees no other value to herself but her sexuality, and so of course she’s gonna use said sexuality to berate her competition.
A Vera Tangeant!
The scariest part with Vera is when she starts flirting with Audrina’s perv-ass piano teacher, Lamar Rensdale. Audrina learns a lot from him and Lamar comes off to the reader as a decent dude. But Vera claims he’s fucked every chick within twenty miles, and later, she shows the evidence:
Vera came bounding through my bedroom door, the cold air clinging to her heavy coat as she threw it down and stained yet another delicate chair. “Guess what I’ve been doing!” she exploded, hardly able to contain herself. Her eyes were lit up like black coals. The cold had made her cheeks red as apples. There were red marks on her neck. Marks she pointed out to me. “Kisses made those,” she said with a smirk. “I’ve got those marks all over me. I am no longer a virgin, little sister.”page 176
Then, we get this glorious passage that horrified teenage me:
“I have seen a naked man, Audrina, a real one, not just a picture or illustration. He is so hairy. You’d never suspect just how hairy by looking at him fully clothed. His hair travels from his chest down past his naval and runs into a point and keeps on going and getting hairier until—”
“Stop! I don’t want to hear more.”
“But I want you to hear more. I want you to know what you’re missing. It’s wonderful to have all those nine inches stabbing into me. Did you hear me, Audrina? I measured it… almost nine inches, and it’s all swollen and hard.”page 176
Audrina reminds Vera that she’s only 14. I’d put a vomit gif here but there are only so many. Then Vera later announces that she’s pregnant, which I’d also post a gif in response over, but uh…we don’t actually know if she’s telling the truth or not?
Like, she’s a minor so I wanna take this seriously, but she’s also just a horrible fictional character whose sole purpose is to be horrible, I just… I hate to admit it but simply because of her complexity, it shames me to admit that Vera is becoming my favorite character.
So yeah, some time passes without Vera that’s rather nice and pleasant and Audrina actually starts to befriend Aunt Ellsbeth. But then Ellsbeth starts boning Damian, eventually admitting that she was once in love with Damian before he turned his eyes to the prettier and therefore always better, Lucietta. It’s not long before Audrina realizes that Vera IS, in fact, Damien’s daughter and that she and Vera are half-sister cousins.
Ellsbeth does manage to pass on this badass knowledge to Audrina, however, in one of my very favourite scenes of the book:
“Aunt Ellie, do you love him even when you know he cheats and deceives and has no honor and no integrity?”
Alarmed, her eyes fled from mine. “I’ve talked enough for one day,” she answered shortly, stalking into the dining room with a fresh tablecloth. “But take heed of what I said, and be aware the athings are not always as they seem to be. Put your trust in now man, and most especially, discard any dreams that disturb you.”page 180
And sure, Ellsbeth continues in her sad nightly boning sessions with Damian, but this is some primetime truth and with it, Ellsbeth goes down right next to Fanny into my “ACTUALLY SMART V.C. ANDREWS CHARACTERS HALL OF FAME”.
Sylvia Comes Home
Time passes and Damian FINALLY brings Audrina’s younger sister, Sylvia home. Now over two years old, Syliva can walk but not much else. Although V.C. Andrews never explicitly says it in her writing, it’s clear that Sylvia has some intellectual disabilities. It’s a rather gutting scene when Damien introduces Audrina to her little sister. Andrews’ writing holds no punches but she does use some, uh, let’s call them “old-timey terms” to describe Sylvia’s condition, so it proved a difficult read for me in that I brought up a lot of old memories of when some of the kids with disabilities used to scare me when I was in elementary school.
Nevertheless, despite being horrified by Sylvia’s mental development, Audrina also sees just how pretty Sylvia is (eye roll!) and vows to help her grow up and be normal.
A Vivid Gothic Setting
As the years pass without Vera, Audrina spends most of her time with Arden. When Audrina turns sixteen, it comes time for Arden to go to college, but before leaving he tries to kiss her. Plagued with thoughts of her older sister’s rape and death, Audrina instantly goes frigid, which frustrated Arden to no end.
Audrina continues to mature, taking most of her time to help Sylvia. Eventually, she ends up giving Sylvia a set of prisms, which she uses to play and refract the light. Eventually, Ellsbeth gets frustrated with the lights flashing all over the kitchen but Audrina insists that Sylvia keep the prisms because they make her happy.
When Arden leaves, Audrina befriends Arden’s mother, Billie. Billie used to be a figure skater but then cut her leg while in her prime. Because Billie also had diabetes and didn’t realize it, the infection spread and she had to have both legs cut off.
Eventually, Ellsbeth falls down the stairs and dies. Audrina suspects that Ellsbeth fell because Sylvia disoriented her with the prisms, which makes for some interesting intrigue, right? I mean, maybe it’s not the most sensitive intrigue, using the “different” character as the one with questionable evil intent, but let’s just go on here.
A Rags to Riches Plot
After college, Arden returns and starts to discover that Damian’s embezzling a TON of money. Both Arden and Audrina consider confronting Damian about this, but end up not doing that because like, I dunno, Damian has the entire house fixed up? Then Billie decides to move into Whitefern, and SURPRISE SURPRISE, she ends up hooking up with Damian!
Audrina confronts Billie about the obvious one-way romance between Arden’s mother and her father, and Billie explains that Damian gives her all that she needs.
“Your father is the kind of man who needs a woman in his life, just as my son is. Damian hates being alone, hates doing anythign alone. He likes to come home and smell good food cooking. He likes someone to run his home, to keep it clean, to take care of his clothes, and I’ll gladly do all that for him, even if he never marries me. Audrina, doesn’t love make it not ugly? Doens’t love make all the difference… doesn’t it?”page 279
No, Billie. It doesn’t, and it never should with piece of shit asshole dudes like Damian, no matter how fake their eyelashes look.
Anyway, Billie quickly makes herself the new Ellsebeth, using a homemade “cart” to wheel herself around the house. But then Sylvia takes a liking to the cart and begins stealing it from Billie to ride around the newly-cleaned hallways. Audrina makes her best effort to keep things calm in the house. She takes Sylvia out to the river to teach her about nature, but then a thunderstorm takes over and Syliva runs away. In her desperate search to find her, Audrina gets whacked in the face with a tree branch and then manages to find her way back to Whitefern.
Near the newel post I stumbled over something soft. I fell to my knees and began to crawl around in the dark, feeling with my hands for whatever had made me fall. My right hand slid on something wet, warm and sticky. At first I thought it was water from one of the fern pots, but the odor… the thickness of it… blood. It had to be blood. More gingerly, I reached with my left hand. Hair. Long, thick, curling hair. Strong hair that I knew from the feel was dark blue-black.page 284
Audrina then finds Sylvia riding the cart at the top of the stairs, and then she wonders if Sylvia did, in fact, kill both Ellsbeth and Billie out of jealousy that they were taking up Audrina’s attention.
Fantastic Psychological Horror
In the chaos of the novel’s third act, Audrina and Arden take Sylvia from the house and get married. THey book a hotel room with an adjoining suite to consummate their marriage while keeping Syliva with them. Arden gets pissed about this. He’s waited literally his entire life to bone Audrina and he doesn’t wanna do it with Syliva around.
Anyway, because Audrina’s so haunted by the rape and murder of her dead sister, Audrina, she decides to delay the inevitable by “getting ready” in the most 80s possible way:
In the bedroom Arden and I were to share, he paced the floor impatiently while I took an hour-long tub bath and shampooed my hair. Next I rolled it on curlers, used my hair dryer, creamed my face, and while my hair finished drying, I removed my nail polish and did my nails all over again, my toenails, too. Now that my hair was thoroughly dry, I had to wait for my nails to dry as well. When they seemed solid enough, I carefully took out the curler sn brushed the tight curls into loose, soft waves. I sprayed on cologne and puffed on talcum and finally dropped a fancy nightgown down over my head. Stupid, stupid, I was calling myself for being afraid to go to my husband.page 240
I read this and tried to imagine Arden pacing the floor for the 5 or so hours it probably took for her to get ready. But it doesn’t end there, folks! First, Audrina gets all insecure in the see-through peignoir that BILLIE gave to her (because I guess Billie knows what kind of see-through nightgowns her son would like?). But then Audrina gets all paranoid, thinking bout the first Audrina and about Vera bong Lamar. She starts to take the nightgown off but then Arden finally vocalizes his blue balls.
“You’ve got thirty seconds now. If you’re not out when you promised, I’m coming in. Even if I have to kick down that door, I’m coming in!”page 241
Arden kicks the door in and partially injures himself, but not enough for him to back away from pushing the reluctant Audrina into having sex. There’s some arm-stroking, some breast-stroking, some nipple encircling over a thin see-through nightgown. Arden claims this is his first time but then Audrina worries that she’s not “the first” and then Arden claims that she isn’t.
This makes me wonder if Andrews is talking about sex or love, because the scene is unclear. Audrina asks who the “other girls” were, hinting at Vera, but Arden just…doesn’t answer and continues stroking her breasts until Audrina starts picturing the rocking chair and the former Audrina’s memories of the rape and the tree and the thunderstorm. She starts hearing the boys laughing at her like they did to the first Audrina.
I felt him jabbing deep into me, thick and hot and slippery wet. I fought to free myself, bucking, kicking, scratching. I clawed deep into the skin of his back, raked at his naked buttocks, but he didn’t stop. He kept on jabbing, causing the same kind of shame, the same kind of pain as they had caused her. His face… was that Adren’s boyish face with his hair plastered to his forehead, his eyes bulging as he stared before he turned and ran? No, no, Arden hadn’t been born then. He was just another like them, that was all. All men alike… all alike, alike… like…page 247
Okay, it’s time to get personal for a moment:
Arden’s a rapist piece of shit, man. Like he said he wanted to go slow and easy on her but then he didn’t stop when she was literally scratching him? ALSO, while we don’t actually find out the truth until later that Audrina IS actually the first Audrina just gaslit by Damian to believe she wasn’t raped in order to get her over the PTSD of being raped by a bunch of boys as a 9-year-old. Arden wasn’t one of the original rapist boys but he did see the rape happening and just ran away, which I can forgive him for.
Him becoming a rapist himself? No. ANd I’m more than happy to watch him turn into an even bigger POS when I read Whitefern, so yeah.
This scene gripped me when I read it in high school, but I was also a teen when teen sex comedies had reached their cringeworthy peak:
Growing up, and even now at times, I find myself beyond nervous around male attention. These movies gave me the perception that dudes ALWAYS saw women as sexual objects. Particularly, I remember going to the theatre to see Shallow Hal and sitting next to two teenage dudes who literally made sexual comments about EVERY SINGLE WOMAN that appeared on the screen. Nothing was off-limits. Arms? Legs? Cheekbones? Feet? I remember listening to them gawk over these women and my body crumpling in shame because I simply didn’t match up.
Even now, when I post my outfit pictures on Instagram and some dudes get way too forward, commenting more on ME than on the actual outfit, I start feeling objectified. Reading this
sex rape scene as an adult, I can totally write-off Arden as a piece of shit.
Back when I was 14, though? I just thought it was a dive into Audrina’s psyche. I appreciated the darkness but still wanted her to be with Arden, because he was sO sWeEt BeFoRe!1!
Some Good Olde School Misogyny
Alright, so eventually Vera returns to Whitefern as a nurse. Audrina then learns the truth about the real Audrina and then, gets disoriented by the prisms which may or may not be caused by Sylvia. She too then falls down the stairs and into a coma. Nurse Vera tends to Audrina day after day. Audrina occasionally breaks out of her slumber and sees Vera and Arden like fucking and shit. Damian goes missing for days on end. Because he’s working, I guess?
Eventually, Sylvia helps Audrina get out of bed. Sylvia then kills Billy in her usual way of pushing her down the stairs. Now, one might argue that Sylvia never pushed anyone down the stairs, but come on, it’s obvious. Sylvia’s a murderer and we’re all totally okay with it, right?
Damien then finally confesses to Audrina that he basically made her think she was a younger version of her “dead” self so she wouldn’t have to live with the trauma of being raped as a 9-year-old because apparently having the trauma of living beneath a “perfect” sister’s shadow is easier? Damien claims he did this to protect her and shit, but at this point, I’m beyond feeling sorry for a guy who is not only an abuser, gaslighter, and a rich asshole, but also a fucking crybaby about his own misdeeds.
Anyway, Audrina forgives him. She does, however, decide to ditch Arden, a plot point which adult me was super stoked about. Sadly, adult me also forgot about the subsequent plot point where Arden comes crawling back full of apologies and Audrina forgives him TOO and they all live happily ever after or whatever. And I’m just, yeah, you’re on your own now, lady.
Maybe get some therapy, okay? You know how old you are now, Audrina. It’s time to be a grown-ass woman and start dealing with your baggage instead of trusting some asshole who refused to help you deal with it MULTIPLE TIMES.
Some Really Bad Writing
To be honest, I find Andrews’ actual-penned work really difficult to pick “bad” passages from. She definitely had the tendency to overwrite. Her pacing is also truly awful, which is part of the reason why writing this review took fucking FOREVER, is because the narrative doesn’t work in a way that keeps the reader grounded. In a way, this works at conveying Audrina’s character. She’s an unreliable narrator at heart, but Andrews’ writing does suffer a lot when she writes internal summaries that suddenly warp into actual scenes of the book. I find it very jarring and difficult to really “plot” this book out properly. It’s often hard to feel grounded in her prose.
But it comes from a very raw and honest place, which is why My Sweet Audrina is my favourite V.C. Andrews book. It’s a complicated mix of good and bad, and all I can really say about the writing is that it’s this weird complexity of “honest” and “bad” and “salacious” that makes V.C. Andrews’ writing just so absolutely gripping, even decades after this book was published.
My Sweet Audrina: My Final Thoughts
It took me several months to write this review. It’s easily been the most difficult Grown-Ass V.C. Andrews Review for me to write, and I hope that says a lot. I know that I’m not the only reader who struggled through this book, but it’s still my favourite V.C. Andrews story, simply for the sake that it was her only single book, at least, up until Neiderman went and wrote Whitefern, which I will get to eventually. I wish Audrina fucking ditched Arden and her dad by the end but I mean, it’s a damn V.C. Andrews book after all.
This book took so long to finish and while I wish the narrative was better-structured to make it a more pleasant read, I still came out of it with all the memories of my teenage self reading it during “silent reading” time in high school over several months. I still remember how gripped I was by it, and I know that this memory is what many V.C. Andrews fans appreciate about her work.
MY SWEET AUDRINA (Audrina Series #1)
- Peak V.C. Andrews aesthetic.
- Vera is the OG bad girl, but I also love her character struggle.
- Non-rapist dad, but still a messed-up dad.
- Fuck Arden.
- Plot is hard to follow.
- Audrina essentially learns nothing and doesn't grow as a character.