V. C. Andrews [also published as Virginia Andrews]
Family Storms (March Family, Book 1)
Simon & Schuster Pocket Star (US & CA: 22nd February 2011; UK: 26th April 2012; AU: 1st June 2012)
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This book pretty much sticks to the formula, so it falls a bit flat. The difference is that Sasha Porter starts off homeless…and she’s quarter-Chinese. Strange how the other ethnic VCA heroine I remember (Rain) also lived in poverty (the Projects). So only ethnic people live in rough neighbourhoods? What are you trying to say, VCA? Anyhoo, this leads to Sasha and her mum’s looks referred to as “exotic”.
Ridiculously wealthy Jordan March brings Sasha into her family, and it turns out Sasha is some calligraphy painting, clarinet playing, child genius, or whatever. Naturally, her new “sister”, Kiera, hates her – because of who Sasha is, or who she isn’t? Turns out Jordan’s trying to get Sasha to take the place of her dead daughter, Alena. She didn’t die in mysterious circumstances or madness or anything – just acute leukaemia. And you know what that means, everyone – CANCER GLAMOURISATION! As various forms of media – both fictional and non-fictional – have taught us, people with cancer aren’t regular people like you and me. They’re BETTER than us. Absolutely flawless in every single way, even before they were diagnosed. Cancer patients are martyrs who die for our sins, because as they’re perfect in every way, they have no sin of their own. And here I thought cancer patients don’t want people to think of them as “special”; they just want to be like anyone else…
Anyhoo, Kiera tries to turn Sasha into a bad girl, or at least give her the appearance of one, by forcing her to get a specific tattoo, making her wear the trashiest clothes possible (that outfit at Disneyland is just AWFUL), inducting her into a sex-confessional club, and getting her drugged and raped while everyone watches. Also, Kiera was driving the car that injured Sasha and killed her mother.
So there’s a whole lot of virgin-shaming, slut-shaming, cancer-martyrising, poor-shaming…and why is there a sequel? There doesn’t need to be one, but I’ll read it, anyway.