7. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls (2005)
Length: 288 pages
Started: 27 January 2016
Finished: 29 January 2016
Where did it come from? From Paperback Swap
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 23 January 2016
Why do I have it? I like non-fiction and Jeannette Walls is a new author for me.
Jeannette Walls grew up as the second oldest of four children, with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Her childhood could best be described as unconventional as her parents lived like nomads, moving their family around the desert towns of the Southwest and camping in the mountains. Ms. Walls’ remarkable memoir of her childhood is one of resilience and redemption, and a poignant glimpse into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant.
When he was sober, Jeannette’s father was a tremendously gifted person. Rex Walls was an engineer and sometime inventor, who was brilliant and charismatic. Sobriety allowed him to be an amazing father to his children; he taught them physics, geology, and how to embrace life without fear. He captured his children’s imagination, and taught them to appreciate the world around them. But when he drank, Rex became dishonest and destructive.
Jeannette’s mother was a free spirit who found the very idea of domesticity completely abhorrent. Rose Mary Walls was an educator, but much preferred living the life of an artist – writing and painting – to teaching schoolchildren. She loved her children, but didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family. To Rose Mary’s mind, cooking a meal which would be consumed in fifteen minutes just didn’t appeal to her, not when she could create a painting that might last forever.
So, the Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, but chose to be homeless even as their children prospered.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is truly astonishing – a touching memoir written with deep affection and generosity. Ms. Walls’ writing is permeated by her intense love for a peculiar but loyal family. This is a story of triumph against all odds, yet it is also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave Ms. Walls the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
In my opinion, this was a remarkable book for me to read. It was a poignantly written, intensely personal memoir which highlights just how resilient children can be in terrible circumstances. The impoverished life that the Walls children experienced – as seen through the eyes of a child – was not abnormal to them; they just accepted things the way they were.
I appreciated that even in the middle of such a heart-wrenching period, there were still humorous times. Despite its own flaws, the Walls family was a strong, loving family – the children loved their parents deeply, and their parents reciprocated that love. I give this book an A+!
A+! – (96-100%)
Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight