So J.K. Rowling’s apparently acknowledged what I’ve been saying for years – Harry and Hermione were the better match. And yeah, yeah, yeah opposites attract and whatever. I’m sorry the chemistry was always better between Harry and Hermione. And now Ms. Rowling has finally validated my thoughts! VINDICATION!
I know I care way too much about this. But watch the scene below and then tell me I’m wrong.
Inspired by the resurgence of V.C. Andrews in my life thanks to Lifetime I’ve found myself dwelling on the theme of terrible parents in literature. Sprinkled throughout book history are evil, awful, questionable or simply giant failures of parental examples from Queen Jocasta from the three Theban plays to Christian-crazy Margaret White from Carrie.
So please sit back and enjoy this list of god-awful parents brought to you by the minds of your friendly, neighbourhood authors.
*This list is weighed on a scale of Bambi’s mum to a V.C. Andrews book parent*
Corrine Dollanganger -Foxworth, (Or any parent in the V.C. Andrews canon of borderline sociopathic parental units) Flowers in the Attic, V.C. Andrews
What’s worst than a girl-child mother? A girl-child, lazy, kind of slutty, definitely selfish, self-involved, obviously lazy because really she could have attempted to get a job or just marry rich for the sake of her children mother. Oh did I mention she shows shades of the crazy her psycho mom definitely called dibs on years earlier? Cause she totes does. There’s also that whole thing where she married her half-uncle/half-brother, agrees to lock up her four children in her crazy mother’s attic, then tries to poison them to death with arsenic laced doughnuts. Can you say evil?
Obviously a V.C. Andrews parent. The original to boot.
Eleanor’s Parents, Eleanor and Park, Rainbow Rowell
Poor Eleanor, she gets dealt a pretty rough hand as a teen – quirky, with red hair and a bit of extra weight she stands out like the proverbial sore thumb of lore before. Lucky for her she has Park to act as her port in the storm (this post is just littered with lame sayings, let’s see how long I can keep it up.) With a mother more concerned about pleasing her abusive, alcoholic second husband, a father more concerned with being cool, reliving his youth and shucking all parental responsibility, oh and again that alcoholic, abusive stepfather, who kicked her out of her own home, let her come back and then haunts her with crude sexual messages and on occasion beats her mother is it any wonder they make it on this list?
Definitely leaning towards the V.C. standard of parents (but with far less cheese.)
Marisa Coulter – His Dark Materials, Phillip Pullman
In the words of Damien from Mean Girls “She’s fabulous but she’s evil.” Marisa Coulter, mother of Lyra, one of two children enlisted to *spoiler* basically kill God works for the Magesterium, and uses her position and influence to manipulate the church into giving her the money to fund her evil schemes. Her Daemon is nameless which suggests she may be lacking in the love gene. Yet she’s curiously kind to Lyra. A greater parental oxymoron has there never been.
On a scale of Bambi’s mum to a V.C. Andrews adult, let’s place her in the middle beside Katniss’ mum from The Hunger Games.
Uncle Vernon & Aunt Petunia, Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling
The best worst guardians ever, Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia were so concerned with keeping up appearances (another saying! Also a delightful British comedy from the 1990s FYI) that they locked poor Harry in a closet under the stairs, told him lies about his parents and pretended to send him to St Brutus’s Secure Centre for Incurably Criminal Boys (best fake school name of all time) all to save face. The brilliance of J.K. Rowling eventually reveals that at least for Aunt Petunia there was jealousy and envy on her part that led to her behaviour. Uncle Vernon however, is just a jerk.
Why this clip? I don’t know.
On the Bambi-V.C. Andrews Scale they’re a solid Uncle Vernon & Aunt Petunia.
Marcus Eaton, Divergent series, Veronica Roth
Allegiant controversy aside – one thing Veronica Roth did well was bad parents, especially in the form of Poppa Don’t Preach preaching poppa (seriously my verbosity knows no bounds) Marcus Eaton. Leader of the Abnegation, a group that is meant to be selfless, controlled and understanding, is instead manipulative, power hungry and abusive (a common theme on the bad parent scale.) Tobias “Four” Eaton got his nickname because his fear landscaped showed he only had four fears to master – the biggest, scariest of them all? You got it, Poppa Marcus. Oh and Mama Evelyn? Well she ain’t no walk in the park either.
Not quite V.C.A but definitely a head above the Dursley’s.
Stepmothers the literary world over, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretl, Snow White
Lady Tremaine with her big bouffant and hideous daughters, the evil Queen with her desire for hearts ripped straight from the cavity (or in the original a meal of freshly procured virgin lungs), H&G’s mommy dearest with her super awful “the world revolves around me” mentality that leads her to demand her husband take his children to the woods and lose them. *Cough bitch cough* Is it any wonder that children with divorced parents fear remarriage? Thanks for that Hans Christian Andersen. Thanks a bunch.
The Bambi-V.C.A. Scale goes something like Bambi, mediocre parents, Evil Stepmothers, V.C.A parents.
The Wormwoods, Matilda, Roald Dahl
My personal favourite book in the Roald Dalh oeuvre, Matilda herself is strong, smart, a lover of art and books, all around a real classy kid. Her parents however are dimwitted, lowbrow trash who wouldn’t know their daughters worth if it bit them in the butt. As a child I remember being nothing but disgusted by these two, and feeling a sense of great satisfaction when Matilda went on to live with Miss Honey.
No doubt somewhere along the lines the Woormwoods and the Dursley’s share some genetic makeup.
What other fictional parents are out there I’ve no doubt overlooked?
Why quotes from Watership Down? Three reasons:
It’s profound – way more profound than you realize as a child, or maybe as a kid you do realize it but because your’e a kid you don’t know how to describe it quite right.
Oh the drama! Who knew being a bunny was so hard?
So without further ado!
5. “If you want to bless me you can bless my bottom, for it is sticking out of the hole.”
4. “We all have to meet our match sometime or other.”
3. “Human beings say, “It never rains but it pours.” This is not very apt, for it frequently does rain without pouring. The rabbits’ proverb is better expressed. They say, “One cloud feels lonely”: and indeed it is true that the sky will soon be overcast.”
2. “You know how you let yourself think that everything will be all right if you can only get to a certain place or do a certain thing. But when you get there you find it’s not that simple.”
1. “Animals don’t behave like men,’ he said. ‘If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill they kill. But they don’t sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures’ lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.”
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
A Light in the Attic
Everything On It, Shel Silverstein
“As I stood outside in Cow Lane, it occurred to me that Heaven must be a place where the library is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
No … eight days a week.”
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley
As I was navigating my way around the Blogosphere I stopped by one of my personal faves Book Tasty, who along with Books: A True Story hosts the Reading Queue a monthly meme where you list the books you’ve read over the past month and those you’ve lined up to read for the upcoming month – pretty awesome. This is my first time taking part and I’m loving every second, what with my strange penchant for lists.
Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell
Looking for Alaska, John Green
Bully, Penelope Douglas
Paper Towns, John Green
The Monthly Re-Read: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor
Like most avid readers my To Read list grows at a far more rapid pace than I read but I do always have a list in the ol’ noggin of what I’ll read next. So without further ado my current lineup for September (subject to change as my daily whims see fit):
13 Reasons Why, Jay Asher
The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend, Kody Keplinger
Tampa, Alice Nutting
Me Before You, Jojo Moyes
Monthly Re-read: Watership Down, Richard Adams
And finally I have three ARCs lined up:
Of course in a perfect world I’d have nothing to do with my days but read, unfortunately the world is not perfect and those two pesky and seemingly eternal sidekicks – work and school – will most likely get in the way of me completing this list, but, there’s always October.