Last year when The Glass Castle came out in theaters, my mom and I went to watch it together, though I had not yet read the book. The movie was good but my mom said it didn't do the book justice. After reading the book and comparing it for myself, I determined she was right. (We always say the book is better than the movie anyway). I can remember when my mom first read The Glass Castle, which would have been around 2008-2009, and she connected to the book in a special way. The book moved my mother, and still remains one of her favorites.
Last month as I rearranged the books on my bookshelf, I came across my mom's copy of The Glass Castle I had borrowed and intended to read years ago. When I cracked the book open, to my surprise I saw on the inside of the first page signatures of all the women who had read the book after my mom. The signatures were of my three aunts, one cousin, and a friend of my mom who had borrowed the book back in 2009. I was excited to be able to add my name to the signatures once I finished the book. Though I didn't read the book until this year, almost ten years later, I knew that this book would find a way to my heart as well.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a memoir that details her life growing up with her wild and unique family. This memoir has spent more than seven years on the New York Times bestsellers list and has received many accolades. As one learns from the start the Walls family is very peculiar, to say the least. Jeanette, with her three siblings and parents, move across the United States by bouncing from home to home, leaving the little they own behind after almost every move. Her mother is free spirited, yet doesn't want to take on the responsibilities of motherhood. Her father is a intelligent and charismatic, yet tough and manipulative when he drinks too much liquor. Most of the time the family has little to no money, and spends their time searching for their next meal or place to stay. Jeannette and her siblings rely on each other for survival in their complicated and unpredictable world.
Their journey from the deserts of the west coast to the hills of West Virginia is one of poverty and pain. Despite the uncertainty that surrounded Jeannette's life, she always tried to stay positive in hopes for a better tomorrow. Jeannette struggles to try to love and accept her parents yet escape the life they imposed on her and her siblings. Throughout the memoir, from Jeannette's earliest memory to her adult life, readers are exposed to the somewhat brutal and unpleasant situations her family faced. Yet, somehow Jeannette and her siblings find a way to persevere. Once in high school, Jeannette and her siblings escape the poverty that plagued them in the hills of McDowell county, and live in the exciting and hopeful environment of New York City. Jeanette's parents' nomad lifestyle led them to follow their children to the big city where they turned to complete homelessness and eventually squatting in an abandoned building.
Jeannette's journey is full of pain, struggle, and strife, yet inspirational. At times I found it difficult to imagine the poverty and pain Jeannette and her family endured, all due to her parents' choosing. I was frustrated and angry that her parents could leave their children to fend for themselves in desolate and hopeless places. Yet in their own way, her parents did not know any better than to live so eccentrically. Jeannette Walls has a spectacular way of writing that captures readers and pulls them into her world. Her pain, her hope, and her love are evident on every page. Her graceful writing allows readers to experience the Walls' astonishing story from beginning to end. From my own experience, and from the feedback from other's who have read The Glass Castle, this is sure to be a captivating read for anyone who picks it up. As evident by its time spent on bestseller lists, this memoir is sure to stand the test of time.
The Glass Castle
Author: Jeannette Walls
Paperback: 288 page
Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (January 17, 2006)
Purchasing: Taylor Books Store Charleston, WV $13.86 online; Amazon $9.83