Paperback 288 pages
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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.
The memoir starts with Jeannette telling readers about how she lives now, then it switches to her childhood, to her first memory. Jeannette's story involves many subject, like alcoholism and neglect. Did she really consider it neglect though? She never tells readers that she does, but that she loves her parents very much. The Walls family moves around a lot but Jeannette and her siblings don't seem to mind. But settling in one place makes the kids a little uncomfortable. Childhood is never easy, and this book highlights that point.
When I was reading this I couldn't help but think of how I would have reacted if this was how I grew up. Would I have done that same thing as Jeannette or done something differently? Jeannette's story really gives light to what it's like to grow up in poverty and making the best out of everything. I did enjoy this book and I would recommend it to anyone that likes a good read and doesn't mind non-fiction stories.
Overall, I give The Glass Castle a level 4 hangover.
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