Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle: A MemoirI joined my first book club and our first book was The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  This incredible memoir walks you through Walls' life as a child growing up in poverty, moving from place to place, and having dysfunctional parents.  Although she grew up wearing torn clothing, was not able to bathe often, dug through the trash for food, had an alcoholic father and an artistic free-spirited mother, she ended up thriving.  Her parents would not accept food stamps or help from anyone.  So the children, Jeannette and her three siblings were left fending for themselves.  

Walls is a wonderful and gifted writer.  She changed how I view people on food stamps.  It made me feel that food stamps should be more for the children than the parents.  It was heartbreaking to read about these children being hungry and Jeannette hiding out in the restroom during lunch and afterward digging through the trash and eating other kid's leftovers because there was no food at home.

Even though her parents seemed to neglect their children, they did have a great sense of adventure.  The beginning of the book life seemed so adventurous and it made me reflect on my own childhood as being a bit boring.  I never moved to another city until I went to college.  Her dad had big dreams but sadly was never able to fulfill them.  Even though he had a serious drinking problem, he believed in his children, took their fears seriously and when they were young would fight for them.  Her mom was unconventional and loved to live life on the edge.  It was clear she wanted to be independent and took pride in being different and taught her children that you don't have to be like everybody else.  In fact, you should not be like everybody else. 

The Glass Castle is an interesting and entertaining read.  It made me think a lot and reflect on my own life.  The only thing I did not like was the profanity.  Although her father's profanity was part of who he was, I would not recommend this book to young readers or people who are offended by profanity. 

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