I began my career as a library journalist with Flowers in the Attic. SLJ editor Lillian Gerhardt had asked me in 1983 to become their YA columnist, and the first thing I wrote about was Andrews, in the essay (named by Lillian), “Passion Power.” As with Twilight, the Andrews books were all about forbidden and forestalled love. (Although less forestalled than Meyer: Chris and Cathy do the deed on page 337 of this new edition, and I would like to thank Elissa Gershowitz for her help in determining this fact.) Flowers in the Attic, although putatively aimed at the adult market, reached precisely the same demographic as Twilight, females aged 10 and up. Through the time of the series’ height, I worked in two very different libraries, a conservative exurb of Chicago and then a poor neighborhood in the inner city, but the craze respected no boundaries–we could not buy enough copies. I wrote then that girls sought these books out because they acknowledged something girls knew–sex was exciting, scary and dark–in a way that the hygienic sex-is-a-wonderful-expression-of-love themes of the the YA problem novels of the day did not. Plus, it’s really hard to miss–probably because reading is generally a solitary act–with a book about secrets.
This was of course all pre-Internet. I wonder how the craze would have played out today?