Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Here is a summary of The Glass Castle from Reading Group Guides:

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. Jeannette Walls has a story to tell, and tells it brilliantly, without an ounce of self-pity. 

My Review:
First, I think that I have to tell you that I usually don't enjoy non-fiction, but this memoir was amazing!  Walls gives us a glimpse as to what it was like growing up in a dysfunctional family, I mean honestly, if you thought your family was a bunch of mixed nuts you will feel much better after reading this book!

The Wall's family lived a wandering lifestyle, not wanting to settle in one place for too long.  It seemed that when the kids were just getting accustomed to their new home, the parents would decide for whatever reason that it was time to pick up and move on.   Knowing that they had to fit all of their belongings in the one car, and probably would not be returning to get anything left behind, the kids were allowed to choose only one or two items for the journey.

Jeannette's mother considered their gypsy lifestyle to be an adventure so she didn't like to stay in one place for any length of time.  When Jeannette's grandmother passed away and left them a comfortable home in Phoenix, this  probably marked the longest stretch of normalcy for the family.  This of course would only last so long as the parents did not seem concerned with the upkeep and maintenance of the beautiful home that was left to them.  Before too long they would be about to embark on another adventure to a new destination and home.

Adding to the family's dysfunctional attributes, Jeannette's father was an alcoholic.  There were many times throughout this memoir where he had the choice to provide food for his family, or nurse his addiction, and the alcohol won the battle almost every time.  It was very heartbreaking to watch these selfish parents as they nursed their personal dreams, goals, and addictions, while leaving these children to fend for themselves in almost every way.

I don't want to give away any more about this memoir, as I really believe that everyone should read it, although I may be the last blogger that has!  It made a great book club discussion  as all of the ladies in my group enjoyed this book.  With themes of family, loyalty, and perseverance, this book will keep you up later as you will be hesitant to set back on the nightstand before going to sleep.  I highly recommend this memoir!

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:  This book was from my personal collection and I read it as a book club selection and for my own entertainment. 


bermudaonion said...

I loved this book, too, and am amazed that Walls and siblings turned out as well as they did.

Marie said...

Very nice review. I don't read many memoirs, but I also loved this book.

Ti said...

You know how people use upbringing as an excuse for stuff? This is one of those examples that supports my belief that it doesn't matter what you upbringing is, you either have the will to succeed, or you don't. I had a very similar childhood and my sister is a mess, yet I turned out somewhat normal. LOL. Somewhat.

carol said...

I loved this one too. Definitely worth reading, even for those of us who aren't usually memoir readers.

Anonymous said...

This was my favorite book in 2010! Loved it. It was a heartbreaking train wreck.

Drewewmj said...

I loved this book, too, and am amazed that Walls and siblings turned out as well as they did.