YA Book Club: VC Andrews’ ‘My Sweet Audrina’
We’re rounding out our month of books we read as kids (but probably shouldn’t have) with the granddaddy of them all: My Sweet Audrina.
Sure, we dove into the incest, arsenic-laced world of Flowers in the Attic previously, but in my mind, nothing is as bonkers, over the top, “did she really just write that?!” than Andrews’ smutty, trashy, wonderful classic My Sweet Audrina.
This book has it all. Murderous women. A villain with an evil heart and brittle bones. A recurring, warped tea party where two sisters put on their Sunday best, drink, trade insults, and pretend to be a dead aunt, communicating beyond the grave via a photograph. A disfigured figure skater. A special rocking chair. Not to mention multiple homicides that take place by pushing people down the same set of stairs.
Friends, I f*cking love this bonkers, bananas, beautiful mess of a book.
So, what is it about? Well, I’m so glad you asked because I want to dive into this, in detail, and I promise you, I have not made any of this up.
Audrina Adare is your typical 7-year-old, if your typical 7-year-old was named after her dead older sister, who went into the woods one day and never returned because she was raped and murdered. Did I mention that both Audrinas share a birthday? What are the odds of that?! Anyway, Audrina is the apple of her weird father’s eye, and he manifests his love by having Audrina sit in a rocking chair in Audrina #1’s bedroom all day because that’s what fathers do. He believes that if she does this, she can absorb “first and best” Audrina’s memories. The math adds up. Audrina’s mother is a little weird, too, and when she’s not cooking gourmet foods for her husband, she’s having those trippy tea parties with her sister, who also lives with the Adares (as well as her snotty daughter, Vera. More on Vera later. Vera is my favorite VC Andrews character, ever.)
In order to protect Audrina, the passage of time is kept from her. Hours pass like days, and months go by quickly for her. She’s sequestered from the outside world (the rationale being that being a human being got the first Audrina murdered, so why not treat the next Audrina like a doll?!) so her only human interaction comes in the form of her parents, Aunt, and Vera. I cannot stress enough how much I love Vera. She is a total s*it (and the s*it.) A habitual liar. Hypersexual at an early age. Mean spirited. Violent. She intentionally breaks her bones in order to get attention from Audrina’s father. This obviously causes Audrina to get jealous because he’s her father, and not Vera’s (you see where this is eventually headed, right?!) Anyway, Vera is always on the verge of f*cking with Audrina, and as a result, occasionally get physically assaulted by dad when she threatens to reveal things to Audrina. Vera is mad, bad, and dangerous to know and I f*cking love her.
OK, so things start to kick into high gear for Audrina when it’s revealed that a family is renting out a cottage in the woods near where Audrina lives. Turns out that a boy, Arden Lowe, and his single mother, Billie, are moving in. Keep in mind these are the woods where the first and best Audrina was raped and murdered, so Audrina #2 is terrified of them. Yet so great is her desire to get out of her damn house once in a while that she is willing to sneak out of it and brave the woods just for a bit of human interaction outside of her family.
Audrina and Arden have an innocent relationship; he’s just a good pal. That doesn’t stop Vera from f*cking with them, going so far as to steal their clothes when they bathe in a river together. That forces Audrina to go home in basically her underwear and then her Dad goes ballistic. Taking Audrina #2 to the tree where Audrina #1 was found murdered. Then, of course, he requires her to go sit on the rocking chair. Eventually, he gives in an allows #2 to keep hanging out in the woods with Arden. He’s a little distracted because his wife is pregnant, and a psychic just told them that the child would be neither a boy nor a girl. They do not take this to be a good omen.
Anyway, family intrigue of course happens. Vera steals jewelry to buy Dad a shirt, making him think that she mended one that she had burned, yet successfully blamed Audrina #2 for. That still doesn’t make her a favorite in Dad’s eyes, so of course she runs away and threatens to become a prostitute and is found on the side of the highway by Dad. Go, Vera, go!!
Oh, did I mention that Audrina #2 is turning 9? Well, she is, and it confuses her, because not only does she not remember turning 8, she thought she was still 7. So, of course, they are going to have a party for her. Only her mom and dad fight, so obviously Dad decides to beat his wife with a belt. It is the only way in this book.
That sends her into premature labor. Remember, she’s pregnant.
Naturally, since this is a VC Andrews book, the labor has complications and having said child kills Audrina’s mother, and the child (who, by the by, was not named Audrina #3) was sequestered off in a special home. They named her Sylvia. More on her later.
So, all the while this is happening, Audrina is still occasionally going to #1’s rocking chair. After her mom dies, she believes it will help her connect with her spirit. Only that doesn’t happen; she starts to remember snippets of childhood. I honestly forget if she thinks she’s remembered hers, or Audrina #1’s, but I mean…we all know that #2 and #1 are the same person, yes? The only person who doesn’t at this point is Audrina. She’s kind of dumb.
Anyway, as a result of the rocking chair stuff, Audrina wants to take piano lessons and is allowed to. So, she takes them from a handsome man in his 20s. Obviously, Vera decides to conduct a torrid affair with him. That’s just Vera.
At this point, Audrina is starting to venture out into the world, ever so slightly. Time has passed, and to be honest, I don’t really know what age she is supposed to be. From this point onwards in this recap, you can decide Audrina is whatever age you want her to be. She’s still hanging out with Arden and questions why she’s never been invited over to his house. Turns out his mom is a double amputee, ex-figure skater, and is ashamed of her disability. One of you just got a BINGO on your trashy book Bingo card with that one!
So, life continues on. Eventually Sylvia is brought home, and obviously dear old Dad has Audrina act as her mother because men are incapable of taking care of children in this world. Sylvia has some form of disability, which obviously isn’t written about with nuance or empathy because this is a VC Andrews book. Anyway, now Audrina is on the hook for her care, basically for life.
Concurrently, Vera is being the best, slutty version of herself and tells the piano teacher that she’s pregnant. He has plans to move to New York (presumably, in part, to get away from Vera). That basically blackmails him into taking her with him. So, Vera leaves. (She will be back. Don’t worry.)
Oh, if you think Vera left town meekly, you’d be wrong. She ran away, two middle fingers raised, with a cigarette dangling out of her mouth, metaphorically, of course. Because before she left, she told Audrina (who is pretty dumb, remember) that she is also the daughter of her dad. Essentially, the dad knocked up two sisters. One legitimately, one illegitimately. Dad is an a-hole.
Arden and Audrina are still a thing. They eventually kiss. She freaks out. Time marches on, blah blah blah.
Dad and Aunt begin hooking up because that’s totally normal. Boning your ex-boyfriend (who was married to your sister) in your dead sister’s bed. Audrina finds out. Don’t get too attached to that pairing, because it’s heavily implied that Vera sneaks back into that house and pushes her mom down the stairs to her death. I mean, the death is overt; who did it is what’s implied.
That obviously freaks Audrina out, so she and Sylvia run away—to Arden. Audrina and Arden get married, and they do it. (Side note: Audrina is older now…) That sends Audrina into flashbacks of the first Audrina’s rape because she still hasn’t figured out that they are the same person. A few days later, the trio returns to Audrina’s home, only to find out that Billie, Arden’s mom, has moved into the house and is now the dad’s lover.
Don’t get too attached to Billie because she too will be pushed down the stairs to her death soon enough.
Vera comes back during all of this and confirms that, at some point prior to his marriage, she had boned Arden. F*ck yeah, Vera!
Things happen. Audrina gets sick for a whole year, and it’s Vera who takes it upon herself to take care of her (but also, like, make her sicker because Vera is awesome, and Audrina is a drip.) Eventually, that stops because Sylvia barges in, breaks one of Vera’s brittle bones, and miraculously, Audrina starts to recover from her mystery illness once Vera has to go on the mend.
Audrina doesn’t enjoy sex, for obvious reason, so Arden seeks it out somewhere else. All roads lead to Vera, and my god, I wish this book had just been entirely about her. I love her.
After a big fight, in a thunderstorm in the graveyard with Arden, where he tells Audrina to let him go if she doesn’t love him, Audrina runs to the rocking chair and has a memory about Audrina #1’s rape. She realizes that Arden was there when she was raped in the woods, all those years ago, and rather than help her, he ran away. She runs to get out of the house, trips, and falls down the stairs and is sent into a coma. I really feel like that entire family should install an elevator or something. Those stairs are dangerous!
She finally comes to, about a month later, and hears Vera outside of her room telling Arden that they should turn off Audrina’s life support because she sucks. Anyway, there’s a whole thing with Audrina psychically communicating with Sylvia to save her from Vera, but Audrina is boring, so let’s wrap this up, shall we?
Long story short, Audrina gets some real care and not Vera-care, comes back to the home, her dad is finally forced to reveal that Audrina #1 and #2 are one in the same (I mean, DUH) and my poor, beloved Vera falls down the stairs and dies (but is probably pushed by Sylvia. F*ck you, Sylvia!) The book ends with Audrina trying to leave the home, but Sylvia refuses to. Knowing she can’t leave without Sylvia, Audrina resigns herself to a fate of living her with dad, a marriage with Arden, and worst of all, a Vera-less existence. The end.
I mean, obviously, this book is the greatest thing ever written, yes? We’re all in agreement here? There is nothing redeemable about My Sweet Audrina, which makes it the best thing you will ever read. That’s a guarantee, friend.
So, because I cannot top perfection, we’ll round out this month and look toward June, where we’ll be returning to our regularly scheduled program with Sweet Valley High #1: Double Love. Until next time, friends, remember to cherish the Veras in your life.
Header Image Source: Amazon
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