Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

I'm a little speechless on even where to start with this book. I think my mouth fell open from page one and didn't shut until page 288. My friend Amy bought this book for me as a birthday gift last year and I finally got around to picking it up. But once I did, it was hard to put down - well except for the times I needed to take a deep & cleansing breath. It was a lot to digest, let me tell ya. If anything, this book proves that we can literally become who we want to be and our past or upbringing does not need to define who we are. I am completely astounded at the drive and strength of Jeannette Walls and her siblings to be successful, educated and independent. Too many times society and individuals cast blame for their problems on the parents who've raised them or the surroundings they were raised in. If you hapepn to believe this, then I challenge you to read The Glass Castle, it will blow your mind.

Description: 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.

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.


Janssen said...

Wasn't this book INCREDIBLE?! I loved it all.

Lisa said...

Now where is this book? I MUST find it!

Holly (2 Kids and Tired) said...

This one has been on my list and I just haven't tracked down a copy yet. Terrific review. It makes me want to read it now!

JudyGM said...

I'm not a regular book reader -- magazines, websites, newspapers are my favorite. However, one of New Year's resolutions is to read books. So, I saw a mention in the Girfriendoly
blog about "The Glass Castle" being featured this month within their book club. Like you, my mouth dropped upon reading the first few pages. With only 50 pages to go, I'm still in shock. Pick it up at the library or on Amazon for a few bucks. It's the kind of book, you'll lend to friends and should be read by kids, especially pre-teens who cannot live without a million gadgets. Amazing. Now...back to reading!