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Flowers (And Family Dysfunction) 'In The Attic'

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Flowers (And Family Dysfunction) 'In The Attic'

Flowers (And Family Dysfunction) 'In The Attic'

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

Heidi Durrow is the author of the novel "The Girl Who Fell from the Sky." She's also infatuated with the dark and alluring book first published in 1979 but still selling well today. It's full of passion, peril, forbidden love and enough drama to shame a soap opera.

Durrow confessed her infatuation for our series My Guilty Pleasure, where authors talk about a book they're embarrassed to love.

Ms. HEIDI DURROW (Author, "The Girl Who Fell from the Sky"): I wish I could say that I love "Flowers in the Attic," V.C. Andrews' mega-best-selling 1979 book because it's a classic coming-of-age tale: a story of fierce familial bonds and feelings of alienation and belonging. But it's not that at all. This story is just twisted.

Told from the perspective of the teenage daughter Cathy, the story is about the four beautiful blond-haired Dollanganger kids, who are forced to live in the attic while their cruel and conniving mother earns back her father's affection and ultimately his fortune.

The promised days-long confinement stretches into weeks and then years - yes, years.

All the while, the kids are starved and tormented by the religiously overzealous grandmother who beats them with her bamboo whip and tars poor Cathy's hair while she's drugged in her sleep.

It's a sick, sick tale. And I love it.

I love Cathy - beautiful Cathy - most of all. She becomes a surrogate mother to her younger twin siblings. She is noble in her suffering and achingly honest in her yearning. Like Cathy, the 14-year-old me who first read this book was an expert at yearning. I wanted what every teenage girl wants, Cathy says, freedom to develop into a woman, freedom to have full control over my life. Me too, Cathy.

"Flowers in the Attic" is also an irresistible love story - of forbidden love, of course. Not the "Romeo and Juliet" kind when the lover is from the wrong family. This is forbidden love because the lover is in the same family.

It's abominable. And I know that I should turn away from the passages when Cathy and her brother Chris seem to be falling for each other. Oh, golly-lolly, I think as Cathy exclaims often. But still, I eagerly read on because I think, A, they're probably not really related - this family is full of secrets after all - and B, it's true love.

The ill-fated romance of Cathy and Chris is captivating. Not in the Shakespearean way. Think Luke and Laura, "General Hospital's" super couple back in the summer of 1980, falling in love in tawdry motels while they were on the run.

"Flowers in the Attic" spawned three sequels and now countless series featuring other young heroines, but I will only confess to having read this one.

NORRIS: Heidi Durrow is the author of "The Girl Who Fell from the Sky." Her pick for our series My Guilty Pleasure is "Flowers in the Attic" by V.C. Andrews.

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