Whitefern by V.C. Andrews
Whitefern is the sequel to My Sweet Audrina, a standalone novel about a family’s secrets and ghosts. I read a ton of V.C. Andrews books in high school, and I’ve had trouble remembering which ones I read and which I didn’t. After reading Whitefern, I’m pretty sure I didn’t read the first book, but enough of it was recapped here that it didn’t matter (and I looked up a summary, too, just to make sure I knew the world we were in). I’d say you probably could read this without having read the first book, and you really aren’t missing all that much (though the plot in the first book does sound more interesting than this).
That said, I don’t know that I can really recommend this book. Maybe I’m just well beyond my V.C. Andrews years, or maybe this book just wasn’t my cup of tea. Either way, I didn’t really enjoy it. I had expected some drama, some ghosts, and some secrets, and while I did sort of get all of those, reading this book mostly just made me feel angry.
First of all, Arden was the absolute worst from start to finish, and Audrina just kind of took it. She didn’t stand up for herself very much or take control of her life. It was extremely frustrating, and since Arden was a huge part of this book, it was hard to like any of it.
Then, there’s Sylvia, who is mentally challenged in some way because of her premature birth. She’s treated terribly by pretty much everyone around her, and I really hated that. I understand that it’s a book and many characters aren’t perfect, and that’s fine, but without exception every character treated her badly. I don’t know if it was ever made clear how old any of the characters are, but my assumption is that Sylvia is actually an adult. She’s treated like a worthless child, though, and it bothers me.
The main plot lines of this book are a semi-secret pregnancy and the fallout from Audrina’s father’s death. Arden is front and center in both and is completely unlikable in every single way. His beliefs about women and what they should be allowed to do come up frequently and made me angry every single time. It didn’t take me long to decide I hated him while I was reading. Normally, if I hate a character, I can still like the book, but this book relied way too heavily on such an unlikable character.
I gave this book two stars, and while I probably could have dropped it to one because there was so little I liked, I kept it at two because I did like the elements with ghosts. There aren’t too many, but the parts where they were definitely stood out as the winning passages for me. Honestly, this book does remind me of a lot of the other V.C. Andrews books I’ve read, but I think that I’ve outgrown these books as a reader. It might be because the original V.C. Andrews isn’t writing them (a ghostwriter has been publishing under her name since she passed away), or because I’ve just read so many better books at this point. Either way, I don’t think I’ll be going back to this author and I can’t really recommend this book.
*ARC from NetGalley