Friday, February 12, 2010

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

ISBN: 0743247531

Simon & Schuster, 2005

304 pages

Written by journalist Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle is a recollection of growing up poor with parents constantly on the move.

Walls writes about her rags-to-riches life, from her childhood neglect by her artsy and libertarian parents to her (and her siblings') escape to New York City. Her father, an "entrepreneur" and an alcoholic, is portrayed as a freedom-loving individual with distaste for authority (especially creditors). He dreams big, with his invention of a gold-digging tool, The Prospector, and his plans for an energy efficient home, The Glass Castle. This distaste for authority convinces him to "do the skedaddle," gathering his belongings, wife, and children and moving from town to town. Walls' mother is also a freedom-loving individual, who would rather paint than nurture her four children. Walls and her siblings are forced to fend for themselves throughout their lives, after being taught by their parents to con and shoplift. Walls even fashions her own braces to fix her buckteeth. After growing up watching their parents con their way out of and escape trouble, Walls and her siblings create a plan in which each of them, one by one, leave for New York City for a better life. Not long after Walls and her siblings move, Walls discovers her mother in New York City, sifting through a dumpster for food. Walls' mother tells her "Being homeless is an adventure." Walls and her siblings leave their parents to fend for themselves, since that is how their parents have lived and always will live. However, Walls' love and respect for her parents, despite their self-absorption, flows through the book.

This tell-it-like-it-is memoir of Walls' childhood neglect is a heartbreaking and heartwarming story in one. Sad and compassionate, yet empowering.


Allison said...
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