Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle: A Memoir The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was a little hesitant about reading this book based on what I had heard because I didn't want to be angry. However, I sat down this afternoon to get started and ended up finishing the whole thing. I thought the book would depress me, but somehow Jeannette Walls has a way of presenting the facts of her upbringing without victimizing herself in a way that I found refreshing.

Walls was brought up by two very eccentric parents who believed that children needed little structure or grounding. The father was an alcoholic with fantastical ideas that never came to fruition. The mother would paint and read all day long while the kids tried to keep Social Services at bay, find something to eat and get through school. The family was often on the run from creditors and the law and lived in abject poverty, taking no government assistance. Neither parent held a job for very long, even though it seems that both were capably brilliant and talented. Somehow Jeannette dug her way out, graduated from Barnard College, and wrote for for 8 years.

The memoir was incredibly well-written and read like a novel (although I had to keep reminding myself that this unbelievable story was in fact reality). I would not recommend it wholesale, however. There is some offensive language and some uncomfortable sexual situations present. But overall, I found Jeannette's story compelling and even heroic.

They also reviewed it: bethany, Corinne and Melissa. Let me know if you did too!


Heather said...

I totally read that in a day too. And I also googled the sister to find out what's up with her. Any clue?

Have you read Rules by Cynthia Lord? Its my new summer favorite.

Tricia said...

Just added it to my TBR pile. Thanks Heather!

Debbie said...

We read "The Glass Castle" for our book club last year. We live in a town next to Battle Mountain in Nevada, so it was fun --or interesting would be a better word -- to know the places she was talking about.
It was a good read.

Tricia said...

Debbie--I agree. I think a book like that can be even more powerful when you can envision the places.

Jessica said...

I really enjoyed this book too, although at times it made me feel very uncomfortable because of the decisions that her parents made. It was one of those books that really got into my head and stayed there for a long time.

Nicole said...

This turned out to be a really interesting discussion at my book club. I think people were split on the parents. Really appalled by a lot of their practices, but thinking that some of the philosophies were sound.

bermudaonion said...

I discovered this book a couple years ago. I was sitting on the beach reading, and someone walked up to me and recommended it. It is so hard to comprehend that people raise their kids that way.

Tricia said...

Jessica--Uncomfortable is a good word for it. I too have been surprised at how much I've been thinking of it since.

Nicole--That does sound like a really interesting discussion. I can see where there might be some philosophies I agree with, but unfortunately their other "philosophies" (like lying through their teeth and neglecting to feed their children) rendered everything else they said or did completely null and void for me.

Bermuda: I wish more people talked books like that!

bethany said...

great review!!! I read it for the nook...but I am way late! ah.

I LOVED this book.