Mayfair Cummings is off-the-charts smart, with an IQ so high that she often feels like an unlikely freak for being born “profoundly gifted.” At school, girls tease and torment her, whole teachers seem to fear her. At home, her stepmother, Julie, tries to mold her into a dollish version of herself. If it weren't for her sweet stepsister, Allison, Mayfair might not have any warm human contact at all.
But everything changes when she agrees to a makeover. Dazzling in a new wardrobe, along with a new hairstyle and makeup that enhance her natural beauty, Mayfair quickly attracts the attention of popular senior Carlton James, not to mention the advances of Mr. Taylor, her handsome English teacher. Not even her brilliant mind could prepare her for the explosive new relationships she is forming, or the scandal that is brewing...
V.C. Andrews' Bittersweet Dreams is about sixteen-year-old Mayfair Cummings, an extra-ordinary girl whose intelligence/IQ is so high, she's officially the smartest person in her state. She lost her mother at 9, and slowly began to lose her father when he remarried Julie, a woman she greatly detests. Even worse for her is the fact that her father seems to always defend his new wife and take her side. She has no real friends at school, no boyfriend... no one really wants to talk to her or be friends with her, because they are intimidated by her brilliance.
Mayfair Cumming's intelligence is quite fascinating - she seems so strong, and you forget she’s just a teenager, with normal teenage naiveté and innocence when it comes to hormones and emotions. We see her falling slowly into this trap with one of her teachers, misjudging situations because she thinks her intelligence will guide her, and we feel a little sorry for her, because we know how it’s going to turn out, and there's nothing we can do except to read on and hope for the best. Mayfair is a strong female character who narrates with such a strong voice that, if you don't 'listen' closely to her detached and seemingly hurtful words, you miss the silent cry between the lines, the cry that reflects her need to be heard. Her intelligence shows her as almost flawless, yet she is deeply flawed.
This story would hit home for a few high school girls (and even boys) who go through this. Certainly every normal teenager has had a crush or two for a particular teacher in high school. However, a teacher should know better than to take advantage of such a situation. It is absolutely wrong in every way, not just legally, but morally and ethically. It’s even sadder when these teachers go scot-free one way or the other, after all the abuse they’ve done and the scandal they've caused.
The first few chapters did start quite slow and a little wordy, and there was a bit of confusion with the way the narration began. It gave the assumption that whatever horrible scandal Mayfair had encountered (based on the book description) was going to happen in the new school her father and step-mother seemed to be preparing her for. It isn't until halfway through the novel that you realize that the scandal had already occurred at her current school, and it was because of it that she was being transferred to the new school.
Overall, Bittersweet Dreams is a great book that will get you thinking a lot, and when a book does that for me, it makes me appreciate the author's efforts. If you love thrillers, then you definitely should pick up this one. Enjoy!
OVERALL RATING: 8/10
COARSE LANGUAGE: Low
SEXUAL CONTENT: Average
Disclosure of Material Connection: I was given a copy of this book by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.