V.C. Andrews' Whopping Good Stories

When I was in junior high, it was the ultimate in bookish-girl chic to be seen clandestinely carrying around a V.C. Andrews novel.

Around our parents and teachers, we read Judy Blume, Madeleine L'Engle, maybe J.D. Salinger if we wanted to seem daring and sophisticated. But when we were among friends, Flowers in the Attic came out of our backpacks and we gleefully recapped the sordid details of the Dollanganger children's imprisonment in an attic at the hands of a money-hungry mother and an evil grandmother.

Flowers in the Attic (Simon & Schuster)

We went on to delight in the sequels, Petals on the Wind, If There Be Thorns, and Seeds of Yesterday. (By the time the fifth and final book in the series, Garden of Shadows, was published, I was in high school and had moved on to a deep and enduring love for Stephen King).

That was a long time ago — Flowers was originally published in 1979, and I was in junior high not too many years after that. Andrews herself died 25 years ago, on Dec. 19, 1986. But the books haven't lost their popularity among the bookish girls of America. In fact, they're all over pop culture, with mentions on TV shows from Gossip Girl to Family Guy to Ugly Betty.

When asked why she thought her books were so popular, V.C. Andrews replied, "I think I tell a whopping good story." My junior-high self — and all her friends — heartily agreed.