VCA Recaps: Dawn Part 6

 

On to Part 6!

 

Again, this recap will contain SPOILERS so read at your OWN risk!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

 

This recap will consist of Chapters 9, 10, & 11.

 

Mrs. Boston insists on calling Dawn “Eugenia” until Mrs. Cutler otherwise says and basically tells Dawn not to even go to her parents about it because her grandmother is queen. Dawn is seriously wondering WTF is up with her “parents” who haven’t even bothered to set eyes on her.

 

 

Dawn is shown to her room, which is a really small servant’s room. Welcome home, kiddo. You can tell just how much you’ve been missed, right? Dawn discovers that Mrs. Boston is annoyed with her because Mrs. Cutler fired a woman named Agatha so that Dawn could work instead. Because that is totally Dawn’s fault and not her grandmother’s.

 

 

Finally Randolph, Dawn’s father, shows up to introduce himself. He explains that her mother is resting and in no condition to see her due to her mental health. He also refuses to budge on her name because eventually her grandmother will “convince her” to accept it.

 

As if to rub salt into the wound, Dawn receives the uniform of the chambermaid, Agatha, that she is replacing. She has a tough time getting to sleep that night and in the morning Grandmother Cutler pounces on her for not being up early to do her work despite only yesterday learning the truth about everything.

 

 

Grandmother Cutler notices a picture of Sally Jean that Dawn kept in plain sight and gets so angry about it that she tears it up. Instead of getting to work when her grandmother leaves, Dawn gets dressed and flees from the hotel. She finds herself in the family cemetery, coming across her own gravestone.

 

Dawn decides to return to the hotel and show her grandmother just what she’s made of. She puts on her uniform and discusses the grave with a chambermaid named Sissy, who reveals that Mrs. Cutler had decided to make it after a few years of Dawn’s disappearance.

 

Later on, Randolph comes to tell Dawn that her mother is finally ready to see her. On the way to her room, he explains how emotionally fragile she is. In a really gorgeous sounding suite, Randolph introduces Dawn to Laura Sue, her mother. Dawn learns that her grandmother was the one to name her Eugenia. When Dawn refuses to accept the new name, Laura Sue moans about how difficult all this will be.

 

Laura Sue shows her narcissism right away in making everything that happened to Dawn about her.

“My nurse, Mrs. Dalton, knew you longer than I did,” she whined.

She then tells Dawn that she must spend as much time with her as possible catching up. When Dawn refuses to betray the Longchamps as being bad, Laura Sue again states just how difficult all of this is going to be.

 

She’s quick to assume Dawn’s etiquette and pretty much insults the way her hair and looks are. Laura Sue is not happy that Dawn has to be a chambermaid but promises Dawn that things will get better and one day all of this will just seem like a bad dream. When Dawn and Laura Sue part ways, she realizes just how little warmth her mother seemed to have even though they looked a lot alike. Laura Sue hadn’t even attempted to hug her.

 

 

Dawn tries to settle into her new life, barely ever seeing either of her parents because Randolph is always busy and Laura Sue keeps to her room. Then one day Laura Sue emerges and the transformation shocks Dawn. Instead of seeming frail, her mother suddenly looks very healthy and energized.

 

 

The next day Dawn discovers a dusty attic room filled with things like family photos and newspaper clippings about her kidnapping. Maybe it’s just me but it seems like that would be something you wouldn’t really want to remember. Of course her grandmother finds her in the room and is pissed.

 

Nervous, Dawn starts playing with Sally Jean’s pearls around her neck. She’d been missing SJ so she’d put on the necklace. Grandmother Cutler sees the necklace and is further enraged, accusing Dawn of stealing them from one of the trunks in the room. She grabs the necklace and rips it off Dawn, saying they are hers now.

 

 

When Dawn protests and tries to get them back, her grandmother shoves her to the floor and yells at her for raising a hand to her. She then insinuates that Sally Jean stole the pearls on the day she stole Dawn but Dawn is unwilling to believe it. When her grandmother finally leaves the room, Dawn waits for her tears but they don’t come. She realizes that her grandmother can take the pearls and tear up photos but that her memories can never be snatched away.

 

 

The next day Dawn is given old clothes that Clara Sue no longer wears. When Dawn realizes some of the clothes will still be too big, Mrs. Boston tries to guilt trip her by saying she should be grateful and that plenty of poor people would be happy to them, especially Agatha. It amazes me that Mrs. Boston would say this to someone in Dawn’s position. Yep, a long lost teenager who doesn’t even want to be here is totally responsible for your friend being fired.

 

 

Not too long after, Dawn encounters Philip as her brother and it’s as awkward as you’d imagine. Philip even tells her that he can’t think of her as his sister but Dawn insists that they have to. Thankfully Philip had only supposedly told their grandmother that Dawn was a good friend but I’m sure that omnipresent bitch suspects more. Philip suggests that they keep their past relationship a secret. In her mind, Dawn bides goodbye to her first romantic love.

 

 

Dawn later encounters her wonderful new sister, Clara Sue, who is just as nice to her as she was before. She especially harps on her and Philip’s romantic relationship and how disgusting it was even if neither of them knew the truth. She tries to get Dawn to give her intimate details by playing “nice” but of course Dawn refuses to tell her the truth.

 

The past comes up but Clara Sue is weirdly obsessed with Dawn and Philip’s relationship. Almost like she’s jealous?

 

“I hope he doesn’t forget you are his sister now,” she added curtly.

 

 

After Clara Sue brags about never having to do menial work in the hotel and how she helps out at the receptionist desk, she finally leaves. Dawn gets to thinking about the Longchamps and is inspired to write Ormand a letter. She pleads with her new father to mail it to him and he tells her he’ll try.

 

Dawn decides to try to dress nicer before joining her family (without her grandmother present thankfully) in her mother’s suite. Randolph suggests Dawn play them something on the piano and of course everyone raves about her performance but Clara Sue, who is obviously jealous. In an attempt to hurt her mother for lavishing attention on Dawn, she makes an excuse to go see her grandmother, who Laura Sue obviously has issues with and vice versa.

 

The next day is Mrs. Cutler’s birthday so the entire hotel is full of energy. Dawn has no money for a present so she decides she will sing a song for her grandmother. That night for dinner she takes special care to dress. The rest of Dawn’s family and the guests are pleased with the song Dawn sings for her grandmother but she doesn’t seem impressed at all, though she claps for appearances. You can imagine how this makes Dawn feel.

 

 

The next day Dawn is still feeling down about her grandmother’s song. Noticing, Philip takes her on a tour of the hotel and the grounds. He later shows her to his “hideaway”, which is a little room in the old section of the hotel. Philip admits that he can’t seem to get over her and insists on holding her even though it makes Dawn uncomfortable. When he gets too frisky, Dawn gets him to stop and he apologizes.

 

But of course he has to be creepy not too long after when he turns off the light and says:

 

“In the darkness we can pretend we’re not brother and sister. You can’t see me; I can’t see you.”

 

 

He plays it off as a joke, but still. As they are leaving, who shows up other than Grandmother Cutler? And who else but Clara Sue would have suggested where they may be? Seems like Philip’s “hideaway” isn’t quite as secret as he’d like. Grandmother Cutler marches Dawn back to her office and asks point blank what is going on between her and Philip.

 

Dawn is further offended when her grandmother asks if they did anything that would shame the Cutler family. Her grandmother doesn’t seem to completely buy Dawn’s innocence because she says that Dawn will be responsible for proper behavior when it comes to her and Philip.

 

 

And as if her grandmother can’t get any more controlling, she presents Dawn with a name badge that says “Eugenia.” If Dawn refuses to wear it, she will stay in her room without any food. Dawn is sure that her parents won’t allow this and openly defies her grandmother. Grandmother Cutler laughs and reveals that Randolph brought the letter to Ormand to her and forbids Dawn from seeking any future contact with him. Feeling defeated, Dawn heads straight to her room to begin her punishment.

 

 

Next, Dawn learns more about her past and gets a surprise visitor.

 

 

 

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VCA Recaps: Dawn Part 5

 

On to Part 5!

 

Again, this recap will contain SPOILERS so read at your OWN risk!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

 

This recap will consist of Chapters 7-8.

 

Philip drives a very nervous Dawn to the school for the concert. He kisses her and says some lines that make my eyes roll before wishing her good luck. Dawn feels more confident that the three men in her life have kissed her and wished her luck so she heads to where the other students are going backstage to prepare.

 

 

Of course the girls make a big deal about her pearls and tease Dawn for wearing them. Clara Sue suggests they’re fake. Then they lure her to the bathroom and start giving her compliments about her hair. Dawn can tell something is up right before she is pelted by stink bombs. Of course Louise doesn’t participate but she stands there looking sick.

 

After crying and feeling sorry for herself once the other girls leave, Dawn looks up as Louise approaches and apologizes. Dawn asks her to go retrieve her coat so she can go home, feeling completely humiliated. Louise returns with a new uniform that Mr. Moore had. She’d told him what had happened. Of course, he doesn’t seem to really do anything to the girls but maybe he knows the principal won’t do anything to Clara Sue anyway?

 

Louise then has an idea for revenge–she shoves Dawn’s smelly sweater into Clara Sue’s expensive cashmere coat. Dawn rocks her solo despite Clara Sue being sour grapes about it. As Dawn’s father and brother are congratulating her, Philip approaches. Dawn asks her dad if she can go with Philip for pizza. He reluctantly agrees.

 

As Dawn returns to get her coat, Clara Sue is discovering the fate of hers and of course blames Dawn for it, something Louise had predicted and joked about. When Dawn tells Philip about it, he says Clara Sue is spoiled. Philip and Dawn sit in the rear of the pizza place and everyone comes over to either lavish Dawn with comments or flirt with Philip (such bad taste, girls, even if he is awful).

 

Philip suggests they take the pizza to go and eat it under the stars. We all know what he really wants to do, right? Dawn agrees and she loves the view of the stars down Philip’s “secret road.” Philip surprises her with a french kiss and seems delighted about it and all of the things he will have to “teach” her. As usual, things begin to move too fast for Dawn but she has no idea how to slow it down. Any time she protests, he tells her to take it easy.

 

 

When headlights wash over them, Dawn screams and Philip pulls away as a car pulls in beside them. It’s one of the guys from the baseball team and Philip is furious about it.

 

“I should have come right up here instead of taking you for the pizza,” he said, almost in a growl.

 

 

Dawn asks him to just take her home. When Philip gets to Dawn’s place, Ormand and Jimmy run to the car to tell her that Sally Jean isn’t doing so well. Dawn joins her family in her father’s car so they can return to the hospital. The security guard from before briefly stops them until he double checks about their situation, still giving them hard looks. As they reach the ICU, Sally Jean’s doctor comes over to tell them that her heart just gave out–she’s dead.

 

 

Ormand, Jimmy, and Dawn are all in denial until they see Sally Jean’s body. Jimmy is so upset that he walks out of the hospital and goes home, where Ormand and Dawn later find him. The three of them go into the house and cry together. Sally Jean has a simple funeral ceremony due to money.

 

A few days later, the Longchamps wake to a beating on their door in the morning. It’s the police. They ask for Ormand, then put him under arrest. The security guard from the hospital is there, saying how he recognized him. They are arresting Ormand for kidnapping. When Dawn asks who he kidnapped, the security guard turns to her.

 

“Why, he kidnapped you, honey.”

 

DUN DUN DUN!

 

 

The entire family is taken to the station and Dawn is left in a small room, scared to death and unable to believe what is happening to her. Poor girl just lost her mother and now her father is in jail for kidnapping, supposedly her? Dawn learns that she was kidnapped fifteen years ago and that even her birthday isn’t her true one. She’s in denial about the situation, which I’m pretty sure most teenagers would be. Probably even some adults.

 

To confirm her identity, a police woman asks Dawn to reveal a birthmark under her left shoulder. Dawn learns that Ormand and Sally Jean worked at a resort in Virginia Beach and that they had stolen jewelry and her. Dawn has a fit and instead of understanding how traumatic this must be, the police woman threatens to put a straight jacket on her. Classy.

 

 

A younger male cop takes pity on Dawn and tries to make the situation go a bit more smoothly. As they are taking Dawn out to the car to return her to her real parents (they really can’t come get her?), she sees Ormand and cries for him but he must be very shamed because he won’t even look at her. Jimmy and Fern are already gone, set to be taken in by separate foster parents.

 

Dawn even learns that her name isn’t even her own–her real name is Eugenia. Eugenia Cutler. Cutler. Yeah…as in…PHILIP and CLARA SUE CUTLER.

 

 

Dawn realizes this too and it’s just another whammy for her. Her real parents are Randolph and Laura Sue Cutler. Philip and Clara Sue’s parents. So, Dawn has lost the woman she thought was her mother, the person she thought was her father, Jimmy and Fern, and now her boyfriend. I’m not even sure how I would handle all that. It’s too much.

 

Dawn arrives at The Cutler Cove Hotel. The police remark on how nice of a start it will be but they have no idea. There’s a lot of descriptions for the fancy resort and its grounds and private beach. Fancy, fancy! The police woman makes a snide remark on how Dawn’s better off here. This woman just shouldn’t be allowed to work with the public, much less minors.

Dawn is led to an office inside the hotel where an older regal lady–her grandmother–is waiting. Almost immediately she is finding faults with Dawn and saying nasty things about the Longchamps. Because a girl who thought she was their real daughter and loved them for fifteen years needs to hear all of that! Dawn isn’t taking it though and defends them.

 

Dawn’s new grandmother, Mrs. Cutler, decides it will be too embarrassing for Philip and Clara Sue if Dawn returned to school so she decides Dawn will skip out the rest of the year. Isn’t that illegal? Instead, Dawn gets to be a chambermaid! Great welcome home, huh? When Dawn asks about her parents, they are either busy or not ready to see her yet, like she’s this huge inconvenience. These people are really fantastic.

Dawn meets the head maid, Mrs. Boston. Mrs. Cutler tells Dawn that she will be referred to as Eugenia as long as she lives there despite Dawn’s angry protests. Her name is silly because she was born in the middle of the night, not at dawn like Sally Jean said.

 

So Dawn’s lost her entire family as she knew them, Philip as her boyfriend, her entire life basically being a lie, her birthday, and now her name. But hey, your identity isn’t important or anything. Certainly Lillian Cutler would know nothing about that!

Mrs. Boston leads Dawn out of the office and the poor girl comes to terms with her new Cinderella-esqe existence.

 

 

Next, Dawn learns to adjust to her new life and wonderful family.

 

 

 

VCA Recaps: Dawn Part 4

 

On to Part 4!

 

Again, this recap will contain SPOILERS so read at your OWN risk!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

 

This recap will consist of Chapters 5-6.

 

 

Philip shows up at school extra early to see Dawn and she admits to him that they are too poor to have a phone when he asks about her getting one. He’s unfazed, saying he already knew how she and Jimmy got into Emerson Peabody. He doesn’t seem to care that she’s poor and sings her praises. I almost like him for a moment. But then he says this corny thing:

 

“Cross my heart and hope to fall in a well full of chocolate sauce.”

 

 

Of course Philip begins to pester Dawn about going for another ride with him and she has to admit that her parents have forbidden her from any more. Thank God. I feel bad when Dawn thinks of how Philip is becoming a special part of her life, though. Ugh. Run, girl.

 

In class, Louise tells Dawn that people are talking about her and Philip’s car ride and the gossip that Dawn went all the way on the first date. She also admits that the other girls want her to spy on Dawn and that Clara Sue is just ashamed that Philip likes Dawn. When Louise offers to let Dawn know what the other girls say about her, Dawn says that she doesn’t care because they aren’t worth caring about.

 

 

Dawn is late for homeroom because of her talk with Louise and later gets in trouble with it. The principal calls her into her office and makes a huge deal about it even though other kids are apparently late all the time. Jimmy has also been late twice so of course Dawn gets detention for both of them.

 

At lunch Philip laments about how unfair the principal is being to Dawn and when he learns that Dawn has only brought an apple for lunch, he insists on buying her lunch, which is actually sweet. The only time I will probably ever say “Philip Cutler” and “sweet” in the same sentence.

 

Philip is trying to convince Dawn to sneak out of her house later when there’s a scuffle nearby with Jimmy and some other boys. Philip goes to help him. You know…this fight sounds really familiar. Didn’t Tom Casteel run to help Logan Stonewall during a fight after lunch once?

 

 

Anyway, Jimmy is suspended and the other boys get detention. Ormand is livid, of course. He and Jimmy get into it and Dawn walks in on Ormand slapping Jimmy. Jimmy runs off. After detention, Dawn goes down to see Ormand in his office and tries to defend Jimmy by telling him how unfairly the principal has been to them.

 

Ormand isn’t 100% convinced, saying Jimmy takes after his brother Reuben who is in prison. Dawn has never heard of Reuben before and asks her father more questions about him. Dawn continues to defend Jimmy’s character.

 

“Shouldn’t have come here,” Ormand mumbled. “It was bad luck.”

 

 

Dawn learns more about her father’s family on the farm and that he heard about his brother by returning home one night when he was out working close enough to get away with it. He talks about how his own mother couldn’t recognize him anymore.

 

Jimmy doesn’t come home until Dawn is in bed later that night. He confesses that he was trying to hitchhike and run away but a truck driver brought him back. He vows to never return to that snobby school and tells Dawn that she shouldn’t, either. Dawn finally makes Jimmy get out of his wet clothes. She even dries his hair for him.

 

 

Jimmy confesses that he only came back for her protection. Dawn tells Jimmy about what Ormand told her about the family, especially Reuben. Apparently Jimmy has never heard of him, either. Jimmy admits that he got into the fight at school because the boys were saying nasty things about Dawn and Philip.

 

“I can’t help getting angry when anyone says bad things about you, Dawn,” he confessed, gazing at me with eyes so full of hurt it made my heart ache.

 

He then agrees to try again at the school even though he knows he doesn’t belong there. Dawn tells him that she’s glad he’s back and things get a little weird, with her brushing back his hair, holding him close, kissing his cheek. This feels familiar (Flowers in the Attic?).

 

 

Ormand yells at Jimmy in the morning and Dawn promises to get all of Jimmy’s homework at school. When she tells her father that Jimmy has agreed to try at school again, he’s like:

 

“Good,” Daddy grunted. Then he turned to me and looked at me so strangely. “It’s nice of you to care so much about your brother.”

 

 

Life goes on. After his suspension, Jimmy really does try harder at school. The principal watches them, waiting for a screw up.  Winter turns into Spring but Dawn’s mother’s hasn’t improved.

 

One afternoon after her piano class, Dawn finds Philip waiting outside. He pleads with her to try and sneak out for a ride sometime. Of course he ends up groping her in the school hallway. When she protests, he laughs it off and asks if she’s nervous about the upcoming concert. She has the solo after all.

 

The subject moves to Clara Sue and how she keeps saying nasty things about Dawn. Philip laughs at her anger and Dawn confesses that she would be a terrible poker player.

 

“I’d like to play strip poker with you someday,” Philip says, smiling licentiously.

 

 

And of course, Philip asks Dawn if she will try and get her parents to let him take her to and from the concert since it’s a special occasion. Philip’s obsession shows pretty early on. Dawn feels something special with Philip and she just has to get her parents to let him take her for that ride!

 

 

Of course Ormand is not happy at all with this request and simply says that “we’ll see.” Dawn notices how much different her mother looks in appearance from how she used to when she gets home. Dawn reminds her mother that she isn’t living up to her promise to see a doctor. Sally Jean says Dawn is worse than Grandma Longchamp during her pregnancy with Jimmy.

 

Dawn is confused since Jimmy was supposedly born at a farm house on the road. Sally Jean says that happened after. When Dawn tries to probe more, Sally Jean snaps at her to quit questioning her and how she can’t think straight just yet. Dawn chalks up her mother’s behavior to her illness.

 

 

Dawn tells her mother about her singing solo coming up and asks for her permission to ride with Philip. Sally Jean is just as troubled about this as Ormand but finally gives in.

 

On the day of the concert, Sally Jean’s illness has gotten worse. So badly that Ormand takes her to the hospital. The security guard there gives Ormand a strange look that Dawn happens to notice. This will be important for later on. The doctor is not happy with Sally Jean’s condition and how long she’s had it. She has bad consumption and the doctor is amazed she can even breathe. She’s been put into intensive care and onto oxygen.

 

When Dawn visits her mother briefly, she isn’t sure how she will be able to sing at the concert. Sally Jean assures her that she must and makes her promise to do it. Then she draws Dawn close and says something strange:

 

“You must never think badly of us. We love you. Always remember that.”

 

 

When Dawn asks Ormand what Sally Jean meant by that as they’re leaving, he tells her it was probably the fever speaking. Dawn brushes her hair a hundred times when she gets home before preparing for the concert, wearing the standard school chorus uniform. Ormand brings Dawn the sacred string of pearls, telling her that Sally Jean insisted she wear them for tonight.

 

Philip shows up and Jimmy kisses her cheek, telling her it’s for good luck. Dawn brings her hand to it before going to join Philip.

 

 

Next, Dawn’s concert! And just when things are going great, her life drastically changes again because it’s a VCA novel!

 

 

 

VCA Recaps: Dawn Part 3

 

On to Part 3!

 

Again, this recap will contain SPOILERS so read at your OWN risk!

Part 1 | Part 2

 

This recap will consist of Chapter 4.

 

At the end of the school day, Dawn catches up with Jimmy in the lobby. He’s unhappy that his math teacher considers him too far behind to catch up and Dawn chastises him about how much school he used to miss. Jimmy says he doesn’t care but Dawn can tell it bothers him. They go to their father’s office to wait for him.

 

Jimmy asks Dawn about who ruined her clothes but Dawn lies, adding to just forget about it. He goes on a tirade about how awful the other kids are before he starts asking questions about Philip Cutler.

 

“Funny, how he got so friendly so fast.” Jimmy’s eyes grew small as his mind worked overtime.

 

 

As Dawn moons over Philip, Jimmy announces that he doesn’t trust him and suspects he may be part of some kind of prank.

 

“Oh, that can’t be true, Jimmy. He’s too nice to do anything like that!” I cried a little too desperately.

 

 

Ormand chooses to enter the office at that moment and when he asks about the kids’ days, they decide to keep quiet about what happened to Dawn. Dawn notices that he really seems to like his new job, too.

 

They go home and Sally Jean is curled up with Fern in the bedroom. While Ormand and Jimmy go out to bring back some ice cream for dessert, Sally Jean wakes up and Dawn notices how sick she looks. Dawn asks her if she’s seen a doctor and of course Sally Jean hasn’t, but she has something better–a natural tonic!

 

Dawn tells her about school aside from the incident and the Cutler siblings. She notices her mother having some chest pains. Dawn threatens to stay home from school until she gets better. Sally Jean replies that she will just get sicker from being upset about that.

 

“You belong in school, Dawn. You deserve this chance.”

 

I love that Dawn’s parents at least acknowledge the importance of a good education.

 

 

Sally Jean goes on to say how Dawn needs to mix in with the rich kids and how she’s just as good as they are. She is so adamant about Dawn deserving the same things as the rich kids that she squeezes her hand too tightly. When Dawn talks to her father about her mother’s illness, Sally Jean finally agrees to see a doctor if her tonic doesn’t work.

 

The next day Philip meets Dawn at her locker to ask her if she’ll let him take her for a ride today. He sure is persistent. When she asks where to, he tells her that he has a special spot that he likes to go to but has never taken anyone to before because he’s never met anyone he thought would appreciate it until now.

 

 

Dawn wants to go but feels like she is betraying someone. Philip walks her to class and continues to persuade her to go for the ride.

 

“I’m not asking you to marry me. Not yet, anyway,” he added.

 

Dawn’s heart flutters because she has apparently been imaging their married life together, complete with her family living with them at the Cutler’s Cove hotel and Clara Sue becoming a chambermaid.

 

“I’ll be after you all day,” Philip promises regarding the ride.

 

Maybe Philip thinks that’s cute or something but I’m like:

 

 

Louise is staring when Dawn enters the classroom. Dawn tells her how Philip wants to take her for a ride after school but is worried that Clara Sue put him up to it. Louise doesn’t think so since Clara Sue is apparently mad at him for even talking to Dawn but she warns her not to go.

 

When Dawn goes to her classes,  she sees Philip wave and ask “Well?” After she sits down in her math class, he pops his head into the door and raises his eyebrows. Dawn laughs when he leaves. OK, that is sorta cute. But still kinda creepy.

 

Dawn later runs into Clara Sue, who is quick to tell Dawn that Mr. Moore is also considering her for the solo. When Dawn wishes her good luck, Clara Sue is nasty about it, calling her a charity case. Dawn defends herself but Clara Sue continues, saying how she is an outsider, white trash from the wrong side of the tracks.

 

When Dawn adds that Philip really does like her, Clara Sue says she bets he does—that he likes to make girls like Dawn into mothers once a month.

 

 

At lunch Philip persuades Jimmy to join the basketball team. Philip gets mad when Dawn tells him that his sister has been warning her against spending time with him. When Dawn pleads with him not to talk to her about it, he tells her he won’t if she goes for a ride with him. Dawn relents, as long as her father is OK with it.

 

Dawn brings her guitar to music class and plays for Mr. Moore. He tells her that she plays well for someone without any formal lessons. When Dawn admits that one of her dreams is to learn the piano and have one of her own (weird how Dawn’s attraction to music is never mentioned until she gets to this fancy school?), he agrees to teach her how to play in exchange for playing the flute in the school orchestra.

 

After school, Dawn tells Jimmy to tell their father that she’s going for a ride with Philip even though Jimmy isn’t happy about it. Philip has a “pretty red car with soft furry white sheepskin covers on the seats.” It was a birthday gift from his grandmother, something that Dawn just can’t seem to fathom.

 

Philip takes Dawn to a deserted road that he claims he found while out driving until they are on top of a hill that overlooks a river. Smooth. Philip tells her that it’s even prettier at night, asking her if she thinks he’ll ever be able to get her out then. Next he starts putting the moves on her, telling her what a pretty girl she is, feigning his surprise over her not having many boyfriends, and the weirdest compliment about how tiny her nose is. He then proceeds to kiss her tiny nose!

 

 

One of his hands settles on her knee and of course she tells a tingle go up her thigh.

 

“Dawn,” he whispered softly in my ear. “Dawn, I just love saying your name. You know what I did this morning? I got up with the sunrise just so I could see the dawn.”

 

Oh, brother.

 

 

Dawn tells him he didn’t but he assures her he did not just with his words but with a deep kiss. She is surprised by all of the feelings going on inside her so Philip takes that as the okay to start fondling her. Dawn pushes him away, unable to help all the warnings, especially from Clara Sue, coming back to her mind.

 

“Easy,” he said quickly. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

 

Promises, promises. He is surprised when she admits she’s never been touched like that before and tells her that she’s been missing out and that there is nothing to be afraid of.

 

“Just relax. You don’t want to be the only girl your age at Emerson Peabody who’s never been kissed and touched like this, do you? I’ll do it slowly, okay?”

 

Where is Jimmy when you need him?

 

 

Anyway, Philip continues to try and feel Dawn up wherever he can get away with until she has had too much. Pushing him away, Dawn tells him she has to go help her mother with dinner. Philip asks her if she has another boyfriend already and if she’ll come back one night.

 

Ugh. Philip is such slime. Dawn agrees that she will and Philip says he’ll let her slip out of his hands this time–haha, har har, not wanting to consent is so cute!

 

 

Then he proceeds to tell her that he likes that she’s shy, anyway. Being new to men and not wanting to go too far the first time is apparently being “shy.” I just can’t with Philip Cutler. He pleads with her to let him teach her things and she agrees–sadly a mistake that he will never let her forget.

 

Philip thankfully drives her home. Ashamed, Dawn warns him that they don’t live in a nice section of town but that it’s temporary until her father can find something better. When Dawn mentions how much she’s had to travel, he tells her that he’s done some traveling but doesn’t get to do it like other kids he knows. He has to help out at his family’s hotel instead of going to Europe. He complains that one day he’ll be expected to run it, too.

 

 

When Philip asks about Dawn’s past, she embellishes on what she does know–that her parents’ family are from Georgia and live on a farm–and makes it seem like a wonderful place that she was happy at. She pretends that she got her musical talent from her harmonica playing grandfather (who she’s never met). Poor girl.

 

Philip says he doesn’t remember his grandfather and isn’t too close with his grandmother. Dawn begins to feel bad about telling him stories when he promises her that she’s the first girl he’s ever driven home. When he parks, they kiss and he cops another feel. Ugh.

 

“You taste real good, Dawn. You’re going to let me take you for another ride soon, right?”

 

 

Dawn agrees and when Philip asks for her number, she has to admit that they don’t have a phone–yet. Her parents are waiting for her in the kitchen and they aren’t happy about her going off for a ride with Philip. She is forbidden from any future rides. Ormand then admits that he isn’t as crazy about his job as he first was, either–foreshadowing!

 

That night in bed Jimmy assures Dawn that he didn’t do anything to get their parents mad about her and Philip. He admits that he isn’t too upset about her not being able to go for anymore rides with him, though. He looks at her and point blank tells her that rich kids are spoiled and always get what they want.

 

 

Dawn tries to defend rich people by saying poor people can be bad too but Jimmy says at least poor people have an excuse. He tells her to be careful regarding Philip. Dawn has trouble sleeping because she’s so upset over not being able to go out with Philip again. It’s been two days, girl…you’ll be okay.

 

Anyway, she begins to fantasize about her and Philip back on the hill and things feel so vivid that she moans out loud. Jimmy is still awake and there’s an awkward moment.

 

 

A lot happened in Chapter 4 so I’m going to end things here. Next, Dawn has to tell Philip to cool things and she and Jimmy get into some school trouble!

 

 

 

VCA Recaps: Dawn Part 2

 

On to Part 2!

 

Again, this recap will contain SPOILERS so read at your OWN risk!

To read Part 1, go here.

This recap will consist of chapters 2 & 3.

 

During the first week of Sally Jean’s final month of pregnancy, she screams for Dawn to call for an ambulance. Jimmy hurries out to the pay phone on the corner to call. Dawn is worried, especially because her mother begins to look sickly. The ambulance comes and they cart Sally Jean away. Jimmy and Dawn have to call their father and go catch a bus to go to the hospital.

 

They get there and the baby is breech so the doctors have to turn it around before it can come out. Ormand goes with the doctor.

 

“It’s stupid,” Jimmy suddenly muttered, “stupid to have a baby now.”

“Don’t say that, Jimmy,” I chided. His words made my own fears crash in upon me like waves.

“Well, I don’t want a baby who threatens Momma’s life, and I don’t want a baby who’ll make our lives more miserable,” he snapped.

 

I do not blame Jimmy in the slightest. Ormand returns and the three of them sit waiting (no father allowed in the birthing room?) until the doctor comes to congratulate them on their new family member, a seven pound baby girl! The doctor warns Ormand that his wife had a difficult pregnancy and that they are building her blood back up.

 

Ormand thanks him and they all go to gaze at Baby Longchamp. Dawn is disappointed that the baby has their mother and Jimmy’s black hair and no freckles. It takes Sally Jean a long time to recuperate once she gets home. The baby girl is named Fern. No explanation is given for her name like Dawn’s was.

 

With Sally Jean being so weak, it’s up to Dawn to do a lot of the caregiving for Fern. Jimmy complains every time she has to disturb him to care for her. Their father’s moods get worse, too, making Dawn afraid that he might abandon them. Ormand Longchamp, father of the year.

Dawn expresses her worries about her mother’s declining health to Ormand. For whatever reason, Sally Jean won’t go see a doctor. Dawn suggests that they sell their family heirloom, a string of pearls they have, but Ormand reminds Dawn that Sally Jean would rather die than do that. Well then.

 

There’s a moment where Dawn thinks Jimmy is asleep so she gets dressed near him only to catch him watching. Geez, Jimmy, ever learned to avert your eyes? Then again, Dawn just stands there, intrigued by his gaze.

 

Sally Jean finally gets a part time gig cleaning even though her health is no better. One afternoon Ormand comes home early to tell everyone that the garage is being sold and that he has a better job now. Also,

 

“You two are gonna go to one of the finest schools in the South and it ain’t gonna cost us nothing.”

 

See, Ormand is going to be a “maintenance supervisor” at a fancy private school and part of the deal is for his kids to go tuition free. Dawn is awed but Jimmy hates the idea from the start, knowing that they will stick out. The fancy school has a pretentious name of Emerson Peabody.

 

“Emerson Peabody? What kind of name is that for a school? I ain’t going to to no school named Emerson Peabody,” Jimmy said.

 

I don’t blame him. Jimmy and Ormand get into it again but are interrupted by Sally Jean’s return home. She has a coughing fit that scares Dawn. But she’s very happy when she hears the news. Jimmy knows that he and Dawn are never going to fit in with all of those rich kids but Dawn tries to be optimistic about it.

 

A week later, Dawn picks out her best dress and pleads with Jimmy to wear his nicest outfit as well. They have to get up early to ride with their father across town to Emerson Peabody. The school is described in short but impressive detail–for a VCA novel, anyway.

 

Right away the kids have to meet with the principal, Mrs. Turnbell, who expects nothing but perfect behavior from the two of them. It’s clear that she is not at all happy with this arrangement. She isn’t very kind to Mr. Longchamp either. He is a lowly janitor, after all. She also seems to think Dawn has a strange name and refuses to call Jimmy anything other than James.

 

She rubs in the fact that they are getting in for free while other student have to pay so much money for the privilege to go there. Blah, blah, blah. Jimmy seems even more sour about Emerson Peabody now.

 

“Jimmy? Didn’tcha hear? It’s James. We’re in for it now.”

 

Dawn soon sees just how rich the other students are in their expensive clothes. The comparison of that to the girls at Winterhaven in the Casteel series is interesting. Dawn is starting the year as a sophomore and immediately clicks with a friendly be-speckled redhead named Louise. Louise talks a lot and soon Dawn knows a ton about her.

 

Dawn and Louise both have a gym class together. Dawn makes a great impression by naively ratting out a girl named Clara Sue Cutler for having a smoking cigarette inside of her locker. She yells at Dawn for ratting her out once the gym teacher has left the locker room and all of the other girls, including Louise, turn against her. I kind of can’t blame Clara Sue for being upset.

 

After class, Dawn is the last one showering and discovers that all of her clothes have been thrown into a toilet–and there’s urine in it. Even though I kinda felt bad for Clara Sue, this is pretty low. Dawn has no choice but to let her clothes be washed and wear her gym uniform for the rest of the day.

 

“But…everyone will laugh at me.”

 

 

If this was a Stephen King novel, there would be a much different ending for this book. Everyone finds Dawn’s uniform amusing (really?) and Jimmy is pissed when he finds out. To make matters worse, Mrs. Turnbell calls Dawn into her office to scold her for making enemies so soon and for being so classless as to wear her gym uniform to classes. Dawn is ordered to go wait for her clothes to dry, even though her dress comes out super wrinkled.

 

Louise later goes over to Dawn to tell her how sorry she is about what happened and how she had no part in it. She tells Dawn that she should have warned her about Clara Sue, who can make others do whatever she wants. They go into the cafeteria and Dawn decides to go over to Clara Sue’s table and tell her just what she thinks of her.

Clara Sue isn’t troubled by this at all and acts like they were just hazing her into the school or something. She invites Dawn and Louise to sit with them and asks Dawn about herself. All of the girls are baffled when they discover that Dawn has brought her lunch from home and has money for milk. Clara Sue laughs when Dawn tells her that her father is the janitor and that she and her brother get to go to Emerson Peabody for free despite them being poor. Dawn really needs to learn when to shut up.

Even this is too much for Louise to learn, who makes a flimsy excuse to leave the table. Clara Sue and her minions leave as well. Dawn glares at them and refuses to let them intimidate her. Thank God for that, at least.  Someone asks if there are any free seats and Dawn looks up at the most handsomest boy she’s ever seen. The boy introduces himself as Philip Cutler–Clara Sue’s older brother. When Dawn is hesitant, she admits all that Clara Sue has done and Philip apologizes for it.

 

Philip is in eleventh grade and just got his driver’s license. He asks Dawn if she would go for a ride with him after school. That escalated fast.

 

“I’ll show you the sights,” he added, winking.

Oh, I’m sure he will. Dawn has to decline because of her father and responsibilities at home. Dawn learns that Philip lives in the dorms but is from Virginia Beach and that his family owns the Cutler’s Cove Hotel near there. Dawn is impressed. She tells Philip about her father’s occupation but he’s unfazed. Jimmy then comes in and joins them, unhappy about everything.

 

Introductions are made before Jimmy goes to get his milk. Philip heaps sappy compliments on Dawn before his two friends come over to join them. After lunch, Philip walks Dawn to her music class and tells her more about himself. He asks if she will think about letting him take her for a ride tomorrow. When she notices Clara Sue watching, Dawn loudly says that she’ll think about it.

 

Dawn’s music teacher, Mr. Moore, is impressed with her music scales and muses aloud that he may have found their next solo singer for their upcoming concert. He’s impressed when Dawn admits that she has been teaching herself the guitar and asks her to bring it in the next day. He is the only teacher who seems to go out of his way to be kind to her.

 

Louise is waiting for Dawn after class, seeming jealous about Philip Cutler sitting with her at lunch. She warns her that Philip has a bad reputation but Dawn tells her that people should decide about other people for themselves. Louise apologizes for leaving Dawn at lunch and asks if she can join her tomorrow. Dawn is aloof about it, still hurt at the betrayal.

 

Louise tells Dawn that Clara Sue is going to be even more pissed when she hears about what Mr. Moore said because she sung the solo at last year’s concert and thinks she’s going to do the same this year as well. Dawn just can’t seem to catch a break!

 

Next, more school and boy drama!

 

 

VCA Recaps: Dawn Part 1

 

Last year I did a series of V.C. Andrews recaps for the last three books in the Casteel series. It was so much fun that I decided I wanted to do that again this year. The original idea came from the snarky Flowers in the Attic, My Sweet Audrina, and first two Casteel book recaps I saw here.

I can’t remember when I last visited the Cutler series but I do remember most of the major plot points. It will be interesting to revisit this world as a much older reader, though. I’m pretty sure I haven’t read these since I was in college.

These recaps are filled with SPOILERS so read at your own risk! These are more for longtime VCA fans though anyone is welcome to read!

Anyways, I present to you… Dawn! This recap will cover the first chapter.

 

First off, you have to admire the art that went into this cover. Is that red building supposed to be the hotel, though? A hotel with a weird flame tree and fence? Hmm. Here’s the stepback:

Now, the entire Cutler series was written by Andrew Neiderman, V.C. Andrew’s ghostwriter. Supposedly he wrote the series based on notes of hers. I’m not sure how true all of that is but I do remember this being one of the better ghostwritten series.

 

Here’s how the book opens: Momma once told me that she and Daddy named me Dawn because I was born at the break of day. That was the first of a thousand lies Momma and Daddy would tell me and my brother Jimmy. Of course, we wouldn’t know they were lies, not for a long time, not until the day they came to take us away.

 

One hell of an opening!

 

 

 

The story begins with Dawn Longchamp (fourteen) waking to the sounds of dresser drawers opening in another room. She turns to her sixteen-year-old brother, Jimmy, who sleeps in the same bed as she does to wake him but he’s already awake. Okay, already getting some Flowers in the Attic vibes here. Dawn asks Jimmy what is going on and he bemoans that they were going to get a puppy and plant a garden.

 

So apparently they are leaving and for whatever reason this is a surprise to Dawn. Jimmy tells her that their father got home early from work looking frenzied before he and their mother began to pack. And I guess Jimmy just went to sit on the bed while Dawn slept or something?

 

Jimmy says they might as well get up before their parents come tell them to and proceeds to get dressed. Dawn just lays there and watches him. Riight. She then begins to think of how her family is always moving, never staying settled for long. She then decides to get up and as she does, her nightgown dips low enough to reveal her bosom and she catches Jimmy staring at her. Oh Lord.

 

 

Embarrassed, Dawn fixes her nightgown and thinks about how she’s never told anyone that she and Jimmy sleep in the same bed because of how embarrassing it is. Their family is poor so they have to always share a bed. Dawn gets up, shivering at how cold the room is, and has the sense to go get dressed in the bathroom.

After that, she goes to pack right before her parents come out of their room with their own suitcases in tow. Dawn idly asks why they have to always travel at night and her daddy says it’s the best time to do it, glaring at her. Relax, Daddy. Ormand Longchamp is then described as being handsome with sleek dark brown hair and dark coal eyes.

 

“When the day came that I fell in love and decided to marry, I hoped my husband would be just as handsome as Daddy.”

 

Oh, you just wait, Dawn. Anyway, Dawn is ordered to help her mother pack up kitchen stuff and Jimmy begins to take the bags to the car. Jimmy is described as looking like his father in terms of his body and Dawn describes herself as having “China doll features” and not looking like anyone in the immediate family. They also don’t have many photos of family. The one photo they have is of the mother, Sally Jean, when she was younger and “fresh” looking.

 

Dawn figures all of the photos must have gotten lost over the years during their many moves. As precious as her mother’s photo seems to be, this seems unlikely but anyway. Momma and Jimmy are described as looking alike in their features–black hair, dark eyes, bronze complexions, and beautiful white teeth. Dawn has blond hair and freckles–which she pointedly says no one in her family has.

 

Dawn for whatever reason thinks of how her parents told them about her and Jimmy’s births. Dawn had apparently been born on the road before–you know–dawn. Oh, and the birds were singing. This fact will be very important later on. Dawn’s family is really superstitious, or at least her mother really is, and believes whatever a woman sees while giving birth will be what characteristics her child has.

 

“The worst thing was to have a mouse or a rat in the house when a woman was pregnant,” Momma said.

“What would happen, Momma?” I asked, filled with wonder.

“The child would be sneaky, cowardly.”

 

…right. Anyway, Dawn thinks to how she knows so little about her parents family aside that they were both brought up on small, poor farms in Georgia. There apparently wasn’t enough room for Ormand and Sally Jean Longchamp there once they married so they began their travels.

 

Dawn helps her mother pack up the kitchen, both of them sad about it. Jimmy lingers in the doorway to watch and is both sad and angry before Daddy comes in to make them hurry up. Dawn thinks of how fidgety her father is, how he likes to  frequent bars, and his strange, sulky moods. Her daddy finally tells them that it’s time to get going and he glares at Dawn as if it’s her fault. Foreshadowing! Sort of. Even Dawn is baffled by the glare.

The family heads on to the car to move onto their next location. The kids are surprised to learn that their next destination is Richmond, Virginia. Their father has a job waiting for him at a garage there and their mother is sure she can get a chambermaid position. They already have somewhere to live as well so Dawn knows that her father must have been planning this. This makes me wonder exactly where they stayed when they moved in the past. Were all of the other moves spur of the moment?

 

The Longchamps are so poor that they can only afford a one bedroom apartment, meaning Dawn and Jimmy will have to share a room and a sofa bed. This leads Dawn into thoughts about how they both get embarrassed when Jimmy accidentally touched her “where he wasn’t supposed to.” Dawn wishes that she could be like other girls her age with her own bed and privacy. This is so sad. The apartment is so bad to Jimmy that he remarks that he would rather sleep in the street.

 

A few months pass and one afternoon, Dawn’s mother comes home from work much earlier than usual. Dawn is hoping that her mother would bring something else for dinner because all they were down to now were leftovers. But their mother comes in crying and running to the bedroom and dinner is forgotten.

 

Dawn and Jimmy go to comfort her and find out what happened. Jimmy asks their mother if she lost her job and while she says that she didn’t, she admits that she won’t have it much longer. She breaks the news that she is going to have a baby. Sally Jean went to the doctor earlier that day and discovered she’s more than four months along but ignored the signs. Considering both of her children are teenagers, I can see that being plausible. Poor woman probably thought her periods had finally stopped.

 

Sally Jean keeps crying and says she is too old to have a baby. Dawn is worried and Jimmy is angry at their father because apparently it’s all his fault this happened. Dawn later finds him outside angrily throwing a ball against the wall in the alley.

 

“One thing we definitely don’t need right now if another child in the house. Look at what we’re eating for dinner tonight!” Jimmy yells.

 

I don’t even want to know what’s for dinner. A can of beans split between the four of them, maybe? Jimmy continues to go on about the things that a baby will need. Dawn tries to understand how this could have happened and Jimmy has to tell her that sex doesn’t always make a baby. Awkward.

 

“You’ll have to ask Momma about it. I don’t know all the details,” Jimmy said quickly, but I knew he did.

 

Ormand comes home and learns the news. He and Jimmy get into it before Ormand leaves the house, probably to frequent a bar and spend money they need on himself. I think I can see why Jimmy blames him for so much now. Oh, and apparently they are having grits and black-eyed peas for dinner. Jimmy is very unhappy about it.

 

Dawn gets to worrying about her dad and decides to go to the bar to get him later on. And of course, he’s lost track of how much he’s spent.

 

“I don’t like you going in a place like that. You’re smarter and better than the rest of us, Dawn. You deserve better,” Dawn’s father says.

 

Of course Dawn protests that she isn’t better than anyone but if you know the twist, you know exactly what Ormand means.

 

Jimmy is surprised that Dawn went to get their father. Before they go to sleep, they can hear their parents having sex in the other room. Dawn is kind of curious and terrified about it considering her mother’s condition. She asks Jimmy questions about it and he’s obviously very embarrassed because he keeps dodging them and finally tells her to shut up. Then Dawn’s leg accidentally grazes his and he pulls away so far he’s about to fall off of the sofa bed.

 

Pretty eventful first chapter–it’s 23 pages long!

 

Next, the Longchamps have a new addition to their family, Ormand gets a better job, and the kids get a once in a chance lifetime because of it!

 

VCA Recaps: Web of Dreams Part 5 (Final)

Just like in my previous VCA recaps, these will be full of SPOILERS so do not continue if you do not want to be spoiled/haven’t read it. Thank you!

 

Part 1 here.

This recap will cover Chapters 18—Epilogue.

Leigh bathes, dresses, and joins everyone for dinner. She is obviously not feeling it but of course Jillian ignores her lack of enthusiasm and relishes in slamming some of the dieters she met at her “wonder spa.”

Jillian tells Leigh that she has some of the things from Switzerland in another room and that she wants her to see them. Tony pulls Leigh back for a moment. He tells her that he doesn’t harbor any resentment toward her for what she said to Jillian and how they both understand how Leigh is “literally exploding into womanhood.”

Leigh tells him that eventually her mother will believe her. Poor thing. Tony goes on about teenage girls, blah blah blah. Leigh calls him despicable and goes to see her mother’s things. Of course Jillian continues to drone on about the stupid spa. Leigh attempts to talk to her mother again but gives up when Jillian starts to complain about her “starting all that again.” Jillian is even worse than Tony.

Jillian gives Leigh a watch that Leigh couldn’t care less about. Leigh continues to attempt to talk to her mother but eventually gives up and retreats into herself. She even ignores Jennifer and Joshua’s phone calls. Leigh begins to find solitude in nature.

Jillian returns to her social life and Tony keeps his distance from Leigh. In July he goes off to Europe. When Cleave calls, Leigh basically begs him to come see her, and without Mildred. Of course Cleave can’t leave his precious Mildred. I’m pretty sure he knows the truth about Leigh’s paternity somehow. Maybe Jillian told him so Leigh would have no one.

Still, Leigh looks forward to seeing her father even with Mildred only to get stood up—there’s an emergency on one of the liners. She runs up to her room and starts feeling bad. In the morning she throws up and realizes with horror that she’s missed her period. She knows she’s pregnant.

She waits a few more days but the sickness doesn’t go away. Finally she goes to Jillian to tell her the news, sure that it will make her believe her this time! Poor Leigh. Jillian seems skeptical at first and then blames Leigh for seducing her husband.

Jillian insists that Leigh must be jealous of her and that she tried so hard to bring her up right, and that GOOD GIRLS DON’T GO ALL THE WAY! Just like Jillian didn’t, right? She’s such a hypocrite! Leigh finally calls her out on it too, revealing that she overheard Jana discussing Leigh’s real father.

Of course Jillian refuses to confess to it.

“How dare you shout at me like this! I’m your mother.”

“No, you’re not. I have no mother and I have no father. You thought you could have it all, didn’t you? Only the finest! A handsome young husband, a luxurious estate, a designer wardrobe, and a SPECIALLY SELECTED MISTRESS FOR YOUR OWN HUSBAND!”

Damn, girl. She’s not finished though.

“Tell me, Momma, when did you first get the idea? On your honeymoon? When you returned to Farthy? When did you realize that your beauty wouldn’t last forever and would start FADING! That’s right, fading! With each passing day you grow older and older, Momma. But you’ve always known that, deep in your heart of hearts. I CAN’T STAND YOU ANYMORE! You don’t care about anything but yourself and your precious face. Well let me tell you something, Jillian Tatterton, the game is OVER! You’re going to be a GRANDMOTHER and the only person you have to blame is YOURSELF!”

Ah, I think Jillian’s revulsion to the word “grandmother” back in earlier books may have something to do with Leigh finally calling her out on her shit.

These are the last words Leigh says to Jillian as she returns to her suite and starts packing. She also takes Angel with her. Leigh decides that she’ll go to her grandmother since she knows what Jillian is really like. She also takes two hundred dollars from Tony’s office. Really, it’s the least he can do.

She goes outside to find Miles polishing the car and pretends that she has an appointment and that Jillian must have forgotten to notify anyone. Before they can leave, Leigh spots Troy out with his nurse and knows she must say goodbye.

They are just on their way back from the beach and Troy is excited to show Leigh a huge conch shell he found. Leigh tells him that she has to leave and won’t be back for a while. She promises that somehow, someway, she’ll be back. While this isn’t exactly true, I suppose Heaven returning to Farthy later on sort of fulfills her promise.

Troy insists that Leigh take the shell with her. Miles drops Leigh off at the train station and she discovers the train will have to make a stop in Atlanta before it goes all the way to Texas. She takes the train right away.

The next day the train stops in Atlanta and Leigh stays at the station counting what little money she has left. Suddenly someone says that they bet they can turn one of her dollars into a five-dollar-bill. She turns and sees a young man, around seventeen or so. Luke Thomas Casteel.

Leigh is somewhat wary but lets him have one of her bills. She watches, amazed, as he turns it into a five-dollar-bill. He says he figures she needed it from the way she was counting her money. When she says she can’t take money from a stranger, he introduces himself.

The two get to talking and Leigh learns that Luke has a part-time job at the local circus. She also tells him the surface details of where she is from and where she is going. When he realizes Leigh means to stay at the station and has no where to go, he invites her to go to the circus with him.

She accepts and they have a good time. It’s almost like a first date. Luke also becomes more self conscious when Leigh questions him about drinking beer. Luke gives Leigh a quick kiss on the lips. After finishing a show, Leigh realizes that she is going to miss her train.

Luke tries his best to get her to the station on time but they still miss it. When he suggests she call her grandmother to let her know she will be late, Leigh breaks down crying and tells him the real reason she’s running away. Luke acts way more upset about it than Jillian’s pinky finger.

He rents her a motel room for the night with two beds and stays when she insists he enjoy the room as well. Luke plans to take her to the station in the morning. Leigh has a nightmare and Luke comforts her. They end up falling asleep in each other’s arms and Luke tells her that he wants to take care of her.

In the morning Luke insists that he meant what he said last night and asks her to marry him. While I do think Luke and Leigh’s relationship so far as been cute, this seems a bit drastic, even given Leigh’s situation. Still, this is the best version of Luke in all of the books.

Luke and Leigh go to the courthouse to get married with most of the circus people there as witnesses. Everyone seems happy about the marriage except for the fortune teller, who looks worried as Luke and Leigh drive away afterward.

Irony of ironies, Luke is the one to give Heaven her full name and he suggests it as he takes Leigh to the Willies. They stop for food and Leigh gets onto Luke about drinking again. She also sends her mother a postcard telling her that she has married Luke. She also says she hopes Jillian is happy (sincerely) and that Jillian will wish the same to her.

Luke explains about the rich people of Winnerow when they pass by the town. Leigh is shocked by the cabin that Luke finally arrives at and meets a younger Annie and Toby Casteel. Annie seems unsure about Leigh and her “softness.”

Everyone has a good laugh at Leigh’s reaction to an outhouse and Luke promises to build her a really nice one. He also promises that soon they will have their own home.

Leigh learns to adjust to life in the Willies and finds Annie to be very easy to talk to as she helps her around the house. Annie and Toby insist on Luke and Leigh having the bed because “all Casteels are made in beds” but Luke tells Leigh that they can wait until the baby has come. Luke really does seem to love her.

Luke’s drinking continues to be somewhat of a problem. Leigh considers getting money from her trust or reaching out to her dad for help but Luke has strong pride and insists that he will make their dreams come true without any help.

When Luke first takes Leigh to church, she sees how the townspeople treat them and pulls Luke to the front, a bold move that pleases Annie very much afterwards.

They all go to a party after and Leigh reflects on how it’s even better than her birthday party because everyone seems to be happy with one another. She notices Sarah Williams, Luke’s future wife, dancing with him and starts to get jealous. Luke insists that he only has eyes for her. We know that’s not true considering Sarah gave birth to Tom only a few months after Heaven arrived.

On Christmas Eve, Luke gives Leigh a wedding dress and veil for Angel. The weather is beginning to get colder. In February, Luke and Leigh are on one of their nightly walks when she starts to feel Heaven kick. She also feels some pain but is afraid to worry Luke.

Leigh tells him that she thinks it won’t be much longer and gets a good glimpse of the star studded night sky so she can “feel as if she’s falling asleep in Heaven” later. Foreshadowing…

That seems to be the last of Leigh’s logbook minus a letter from a private eye that Tony had hired who tells him that Leigh was found to be living in West Virginia and that she died in childbirth. He mentions that the baby, a girl, lived.

Which is a total plot hole unless Tony wanted his daughter to fall in love with his little brother? That seems too messed up even for Tony. Or did Jillian somehow get a hold of the letter and hide it from him?

Luke Casteel Jr. calls to Annie and she tells him about how she has been reading her grandmother’s journal. She imagines she is hearing Troy calling for Leigh and also the sound of Chopin as she and Luke leave Farthinggale Manor.

Overall I loved this one, though I feel like the whole discovery of the logbook makes little sense, causes plot holes, and honestly would have been better left out. You don’t have to have a journal to tell your story and I don’t believe a 12-13 year old would have left such a detailed account anyway. Still, loved it. My third favorite in the series.

I hope you have enjoyed this recap. Since the V.C. Andrews Project has already done a recap of My Sweet Audrina, I will probably skip doing that one though I may do one for the new sequel, Whitefern, which I hear is terrible. But I guess we’ll see!