The I word

Posted June 3, 2010 by Casee in Discussions | 6 Comments

 The word “incest” is a dreaded word in the romance world (it should be a dreaded word everywhere). I was going to comment on a recent post I skimmed, but decided to bring my thoughts here instead.

I read Flowers in the Attic when I was 11 or 12 years old. For those of you that haven’t read it, it’s about four siblings that are locked in an attic by their mother and grandmother. Over the course of years, the older siblings start having romantic feelings for each other. The series is five books long. Eventually the brother and sister get married. Gross, right? I think we can all agree that it’s disturbing, disgusting, and [insert word here], etc. HOWEVER—and I’m talking to you people that want to get these books removed from the YA shelf—this is FICTION. Horror to be exact.

When I was reading Flowers in the Attic, I don’t remember stopping and thinking “ewwww!”. Just a vague sense of wrongness that was overlaid with sadness for what Christopher and Cathy had to go through. It certainly didn’t make me look at my own brother any different. In fact, it didn’t change anything for me at all (other than powdered donuts). Reading these books as a young adult, I just wanted Christopher and Cathy to be happy. After everything they went through, they deserved it. I should also point out that reading these books as a teenager is different than reading them as an adult. The interpretation is completely different. Emotional feelings are what I thought about. I didn’t think about Chris and Cathy getting it on.

Now I’m a mother of children that may very well read VC Andrews. Will I stop them? No, I won’t. I’m also not going to sit them down and explain what incest is and why it’s so wrong. I already have to have the sex talk, yo. Honestly, why should I sit them down and take a little more of their innocence away? If they ever do read Flowers in the Attic, they won’t be thinking about how wrong it is that Chris and Cathy have feelings for each other. They’ll be thinking about how sad it is and what a horrible mother they have. They’re not going to take it literal. If they do, then that’s something that I’ll have to take up with them then.

So no, these books should not be removed from the YA section. They are not advertised as romance with incest thrown in. They are advertised as horror.

What say you?

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6 responses to “The I word

  1. Agree 100%. My daughter read the book before I did and we were both disturbed by the whole book not the incest in particular. The book did not promote the relationship but, as you said, the sad disturbing nature of the lives these children lived.

  2. I am against banning books at all. There is absolutely no reason that a book should be banned.

    I to read Flowers in the Attic and several other of her books, and I don’t remember the incest at all. Like you said it was all about the feelings.

    As I have 2 boys I don’t think that I will have to worry about them reading it.

  3. I have an issue with these being in a YA section at all. They were pubbed as, and filed as, ADULT horror when I first found them. So I knew going in that the subject matter could be intense.

    But if the publishers have decided to market these to the YA audience, then that’s where they should be filed.

    It’s not about banning books. Especially in the bookstores. There’s not really any such thing. It is about making sure that books in the YA section will appeal to, be understood by, and be appropriate for the younger reader.

    And that parents are given enough information to make sure they know what their children are reading.

    The presence of adult horror books in the YA section could mislead parents as much as teens. We have content warnings for music, movies and video games. The filing system functions as the same for books. And having adult material masquerading as YA seems a bit off to me.

    That’s not to say YA readers shouldn’t read VC Andrews. But they should know that the book is an adult book with adult themes and adult content. Filing those books in the adult fiction and literature section tells them that without ever having to glance at the blurb.

  4. I guess I don’t consider VC Andrews to be adult horror. When I think of horror authors, I think of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Anne Rice, etc.

  5. Anonymous

    Whoever they were written for, they always seem to appeal to seventh graders most! Everyone I know (me included) read them at that age.

    You guys should all move to Australia – sex ed is part of the school curriculum from the third or fourth grade, so ‘sex talks’ aren’t given by parents. Nobody grows up without knowing how to use a condom, or thinking Jesus will give you a nasty disease if you do the business before the big white wedding.

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