“A Triumphant Exposé...”With millions of copies sold & a film on the way, reporter Walls’s memoir is a triumphant exposé on the one subject she knows best: her dysfunctional family.
The first book by the beloved author of the new novel The Silver Star, the extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, “nothing short of spectacular” (Entertainment Weekly) memoir from one of the world’s most gifted storytellers.
The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.
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, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.
The Glass Castle is truly astonishing—a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.
Topics: West Virginia, New York City, Appalachia, Family, Poverty, Childhood, Alcoholism, Homelessness, Siblings, Survival, Fathers, Daughters, Inspirational, Emotional, Witty, Mental Illness, 21st Century, Coming of Age, Mothers and Daughters, American Dream, First Person Narration, Female Author, and Dysfunctional Family
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Stark, unadorned retelling with surprisingly very little judgment towards the events of her early life, Jeanette Walls crafts a fairy-tale memoir as viewed, in reverse, from a cracked and dirty mirror. A reflection on the self-affirming past that we tell ourselves existed when we were really just gifting Venus.
A valid point from the NYT's review by Francine Prose "At times, the litany of gothic misfortune recalls Harry Crews's classic memoir, ''A Childhood.'' The two books have striking similarities; both, for example, feature the horrific scalding of a child. But to think about Crews's book is to become aware of those mysterious but instantly recognizable qualities -- the sensibility, the tonal range, the lyrical intensity and imaginative vision -- that distinguish the artist from the memoirist, qualities that suggest the events themselves aren't quite so interesting as the voice in which they're recounted."more
COTC Book Club November 2010 selection.more
The tale gives me new insight into the homeless, who in some cases may choose the lifestyle they live (in the author's words, "if some of them would work hard and make compromises...they could make ends meet").
It also emphasized how children from abusive homes can still have such love and loyalty for those who abuse them. These parents did love their children, in their own damaged way, and it is certainly too complicated a tale to just say the parents were abusive. They ran the gamut from attentive and nurturing, to benignly neglectful, to outright violence. At their best, they were wonderful, instructive, intelligent, and sensitive people; at their worst they were selfish, neglectful, manipulative, and immature.
The experiences of these children taught them to be self-sufficient and yet did not destroy their empathy and humanity. Three of the four kids were able to build lives that they wanted, although the jury appears to be out on the youngest child, who may have ended up more like her parents.
I admire Jeannette Walls for the courage she shows in telling her story without begging for pity, with an understanding of her parent's strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately with forgiveness. This is a tale I will have to ponder for a while. It is one of those I almost wish I had not promised to pass along, because I'd like to reread it some day. I saw a big stack of copies of the title at the used book store recently; I'm tempted to buy several and press them on my friends and family! I highly recommend this book!more