Andrews-V.C., Family dynamics, Fiction, Mystery, Social Commentary

#537 If There be Thorns by V.C. Andrews

If There be Thorns by V.C. AndrewsIf There be Thorns by V.C. Andrews

The saga of the Dollanganger family continues on.

Chris and Cathy are the only remaining children out of the original flowers in the attic alive. They now live as husband and wife. The two children they have are boys, not fathered by Chris. Along the line Chris and Cathy adopt a young girl. A mysterious lady moves in next door with a mysterious butler. Things begin to get out of hand, especially with the youngest boy Bart.

Bart already feels that he is out-of-place and not getting enough attention. His mom is too concerned about the new little girl and he can’t do the same things his older brother Jory can. He soon befriends the old lady next door who says to call her grandmother. The butler next door also befriends him, but in a very sinister way. He begins to teach Bart about his great-grandfather. His great-grandfather, Malcolm, would have looked down on all that was going on. He would not like Cathy and Chris living together as husband and wife. He would not like what happened and why it happened.

Bart begins to get stranger and stranger. He begins to think of himself as an old man. Family pets start disappearing. Bart says his mother must pay. Women must pay. Women are sinful. Cathy and Chris try a psychologist, but things keep getting worse. The whole terrible time finally culminates in yet another fire.

Will Chris and Cathy make it out yet again? How about Bart? What of their mother?

What I liked

This is a book series that just goes to prove that sometimes when your life starts out crappy it can keep being crappy. Awful things can follow you around and haunt you for life. Sure, you may get over a few things, but those terrible times in your past are always going to be there. You must strive to move away from your past and succeed no matter what, but there’s always going to be that little something that is holding onto you. You can try to be “normal,” but you’re never quite going to get there. People shouldn’t believe that you can be the vision of normal when you’ve had such trauma in your life. People act as if you’re just supposed to get over any bad things that has happened to you and be happy all the time. That’s not how it works people. When you go through trauma, you are touched by trauma and its mark is always going to be there. This isn’t to say you can’t try your hardest at life, because you can and you might do some wonderful things, but people shouldn’t expect you to be unaffected.

Chris and Cathy had a horrible time growing up. They can’t be expected to snap into being normal adults. I liked that this book illustrates that quite well. They came out of the whole thing a little differently than everyone else.

What I didn’t like

Bart needs a stay in a mental institution. He’s violent and obviously has problems. He really, really should have stayed somewhere and gotten some help. I haven’t finished the next book in the series yet, but I kind of feel not getting Bart some better help is going to be an issue in the future.

How could anyone think a child acting like Bart was acting was in any way normal? It’s denial is what it is. I don’t have kids, but if I did, I would be on the watch out for any dangerous traits. I know I would be biased because this is my kid we’re talking about, but sometimes you have to put familial bias aside and deal with the important stuff, otherwise a lot of people could end up hurt.

I just read an article about a twelve-year old girl who tried to poison her mother twice for taking away her phone. That’s not normal. There are no amounts of, “They’re just being kids,” you can throw at a situation like that to make it normal. That’s not just being a kid. That’s being mentally ill. Bart is mentally ill. This kid is mentally ill to the point that he should be committed somewhere for a while. He’s a danger to himself and to others.

I know no one wants to say, “My little Bobby is a freaking psychopath,” but sometimes you have to admit these terrible things. In the end you’ll be better off, Bobby will be better off, and all those people Bobby didn’t murder or hurt will be better off.


Goodness this family just keeps getting knocked for loops.

Weigh In

If you recognized that your child was severely mentally ill to the point of being dangerous to others, do you think you could commit him or her to a mental hospital?

Do you think we expect too much of people who have gotten out of traumatic experiences?


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