Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Review: The Glass Castle

Author: Jeannette Walls
Publish date: 2005
Source: Classroom library
"Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.

Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town—and the family—Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
" (Goodreads)

I've been meaning to read The Glass Castle for probably 2 years now but lamely never got around to it until a couple weeks ago. I predictably really enjoyed it and would recommend it for anyone who likes memoirs.

I really like reading memoirs because it's just crazy how different everyone's lives are. My life is NOTHING like Jeannette Walls's was, but it was fascinating and horrifying to read about her life, especially her childhood. I just could not believe some of the decisions that her parents made for their family, specifically regarding basic necessities like food and electricity. Basically my jaw was permanently dropped while reading and I even stopped to read some parts out loud to whomever was near me at the time.

My only complaint about The Glass Castle is that the ending seemed really rushed. I would have liked to know more about Jeannette's later years and more about how her parents lived in New York City. I'm also still very curious about the other Walls siblings, although I obviously understand why they might not want to broadcast their stories like Jeannette did.

That all said, I liked this book a lot and it's made me want to read more memoirs. Any suggestions for books like this one?

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