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5 Books like Flowers in the Attic: Blooming in the Gloom

Mandy Baldwin itcherIt’s been called ‘trashy’, ‘boring’, ‘shocking’, and ‘thankfully short’. I asked four ‘women of a certain age’ if they had really read this book looking for the ‘dirty bits’. Three of them admitted they had. The other one was lying.

Virginia Andrews’ 1979 ‘anti-classic’ opened the door to a new genre. Books like ‘Flowers In The Attic’, ‘Before I Fall’ or ‘The Lost And The Found’ take the idea of hidden horror to new levels. ~ Mandy Baldwin

Blemished Purity

A mother who thinks the existence of her children cramps her style decides to hide them away in the attic … just for a while, you understand. But the ‘while’ soon stretches into years. Her own mother supports her decision: after all, it can’t be a terrible thing if Granny says it’s okay. Safely hidden away, what harm can come to them?

As these books show, families can hide the darkest secrets. Because we always hurt the ones we love. 


Books Similar to ‘Flowers in the Attic’…

‘In Another Life’ (Laura Jarratt, 2015)

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Hannah and Jenny are two sisters who are best friends but have very different dreams. They are separated when Jenny fulfils her dream to move to England, where their mother was born. She finds a job taking care of the children of a wealthy family but disappears without trace during her lunch-break.

Hannah and her father fly to London to help in the police investigation. As Hannah begins to know her sister’s life-style and friends, she discovers some family secrets that will haunt her forever.

This is a family expose, but also a fast paced thriller, with many twists and turns before the truth behind Jenny’s disappearance is revealed.

At times, the ‘thriller’ aspect tends to down-play the effects of grief on Hannah, but it is still an excellent read and will definitely make you look at some of your more distant relatives with new suspicion.

Similarity Match: 85%
A less than perfect family life, kept hidden.. but the drama reaches a conclusion and can be solved, unlike the four children who must remain forever hidden.

‘The Lost and the Found’ (Cat Clarke, 2015)

Image Source: Adventures with Words

Truly intriguing, totally riveting.

A six year old child, Laurel, is abducted with her younger sister, Faith, as the only witness. From then on, Faith’s life is marked by that loss. Everything is affected, from her parent’s marriage to her friendships. And the media who keep regurgitating the story. Even moving away doesn’t help.

Thirteen years later, a girl appears in the garden of the house where Laurel last lived. She doesn’t seem to know her own identity, but she is carrying Laurel’s teddy-bear. Although everyone rejoices to see Laurel back, Faith soon becomes paranoid about friends and family who seem to know more than they should.

You will find ann unusual situation, a dramatic conclusion, and an unusual reaction from Faith. But to say any more would be one big spoiler.

Slow-burning, and detailed, it gives an excellent view of how a disappearance affects a whole family.

Similarity Match: 80%
A slow-burn conspiracy of silence but with a large cast of interested family members, and the press involved, secrecy is impossible.

‘I Was Here’ (Gayle Forman, 2015)

Image Source: She Knows

Just at the doors of adulthood, Cody has to deal with the suicide of her best friend, Meg.This death forces Cody into a journey of anger and self-discovery.

Suddenly, she has to cope with a new understanding of her life and friendships, life, innocence and the meaning of love.

Coupled with her need to keep her life under control, experiencing romance and striving for confidence, the new revelations and the sense of betrayal threaten to destroy her.

Drama and mystery go hand in hand with emotional traumas so skilfully written, that every mixed-up memory will come back to haunt you.

Similarity Match: 75%
You have unwanted revelations about the adults in one’s life, but Cody is clearly nobody’s victim.


If You Like ‘Flowers in the Attic’, You Will Like…

If a book like ‘Flowers In The Attic’ shows us the lives of children with distorted childhoods, then these books offer a glimpse of what children faced with trauma and grief from their own point of view.
‘Before I Fall’ (Lauren Oliver, 2010)

Image Source: Cloudfront

What would you do, and who would you love if you knew this was your last day?

Samantha, a teenage girl, is given this choice. A normally rather vapid girl, she deepens to wisdom when her future life flashes before her: she becomes likeable and loving. You can see what she would have been… if only she had lived.

A Young Adult book, which doesn’t patronise. It shows Samantha discard the  shallowness which most of us remember with mixed fondness and embarrassment.

By the end – which I won’t give away – you will have decided not to hesitate again, before telling someone you love them.

Delves into the teenage psyche, but with tenderness, rather than voyeurism.

‘The Lovely Bones’ (Alice Sebold, 2002)

Image Source: Amazon

Little Susie Salmon is in heaven, watching over her family as they grieve for her. Raped and murdered at age fourteen, her body disposed of by her killer, her killer – and her body – never found.

All she wants is to be back on Earth, to heal her shattered family, to experience growing up, falling in love, the first kiss.

In the beautiful, empty place she inhabits until she definitely lets go of Earth, Susie must learn to forget, to move on and to help her family do likewise.

It’s been called ‘astonishing’, ‘luminous’ – and yes, it is.  It is also harrowing, heart-breaking, enraging.  It can make you despair of humanity and lift your heart with an understanding of love. Every character lives, even when you know, if there was justice, they would not.

It is, in effect, a ‘coming of age’ tale, narrated by someone who was never allowed to come of age. When I say ‘read it and weep’, I mean this literally.

Sebold’s writing, as always, is insidiously beautiful,. . .

Harrowing childhood suffering, balanced by overwhelming love.


Suffer the Little Children

Murder and abuse are never pretty subjects – apply them to children and what you have is the ultimate nightmare.

These books open our eyes to what we would prefer not to see…and who knows? By making us aware of what can be hidden, they may actually save lives.

Are you shaken by stories of stolen innocence? Feel free to comment below.

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