Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This is my all-time favorite book! This true story is at times, unbelievable. It is the memoir of Jeannette Walls and tells of her growing up with parents that were idealistic, nonconformist, irresponsible nomads.
Her father was an alcoholic dreamer who always promised Jeannette he was going to build the family a “Glass Castle” but never did. Neither parent was a role model, but instead, provided the family with abject poverty and constant moving around the country to make “new starts.”
I found this book fascinating. To see that one can grow up in this chaotic life, yet still decide to become a successful functioning member of society is inspiring. The challenges that the children faced were hard to believe. It was just the type of book that you don’t want to put down because you want to find out what will happen next to this dysfunctional family. Everyone I know who has read this book says, “Can you believe it?”

The book actually opens with a current day event, where Jeannette sees her mother digging through garbage cans looking for food in New York City. Jeannette tells how she sank down into her cab so her mother wouldn’t recognize her. She later asks her mother, “what am I supposed to tell people about you?” Her mother’s reply: “tell the truth”. This makes Jeannette realize that although she is living an apparently successful life in New York, she is actually living a lie because she had not been truthful with anyone about her upbringing. That is what inspired her to share her story with the world.

Jeannette wrote a sort of follow up, “Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel” that I have also read. It is the true life story of her grandmother, a no-nonsense, resourceful woman growing up the in the west. It was another great story of a strong, smart woman. In The Glass Castle, the grandmother is the stable mother-figure that Jeannette looks to early in her life. It was interesting to read about her life and how she came to be such a tough woman. I would highly recommend owning your own copy of this book!

~Sheila Martinez
Co Director , Tracy Chapter

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