Thursday, July 25, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This was my reaction to a lot of stories presented in this book…
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Ok, now that that is out of the way. The Glass Castle is a memoir written by Jeannette Walls of her childhood. First off, I have no idea who this chick is- so I wasn't swayed one way or the next. Her childhood is not typical and is no picnic; which kind of made me feel bad for complaining about mine at times.  Jeannette and her 3 siblings traveled like nomads with their nonconformist and some would say mentally ill but unaware of it parents, settling in little dusty desert towns until her dad decided it was time to pack up because the mafia was coming.

That’s the type of father he was.  A self-proclaimed drunk gambler, he had a bunch of conspiracy theories medaling around in his brain about the government and how they were all after them. He was a genius though, with great ideas. You could tell Jeanette  idolized her father, of course she didn’t know that he was crazy at the time but they had a bond that he didn't have with his other children.They built this dream of a Glass Castle which they would build in the desert financed by gold- one reason they kept moving.

Her mom was an artist. If she ever sold any pieces it was never mentioned but that is what she spent all the money on.  She would rather do something exciting than to cook a meal for her children- which is shown in the first chapter when Jeannette burns herself cooking hot dogs. She is 3. 3 years old. Cooking hot dogs! I didn’t even know how to say hot dog when I was 3, let alone cook one!  
There were a few cringeworthy parts; such as when after  the dad decided to pack up and leave, one of their first big moves. The dad came in yelling that they had to pack everything in an hour, to take only what they needed and while they were in the car, the cat was meowing and the dad stopped and threw the cat out of the car. He' was all like...
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Another WTF moment was her parent’s reaction to sexual abuse.  The whole, well you gotta learn to stick up for your attitude. UMM! You’re the parents!  Step up. Provide for your children!

“If you don't want to sink, you better figure out how to swim”

Eventually, the money just couldn’t keep up with them and they had to settle in a small ass dingy town.  The Walls bought a hole. All I could imagine was this little shack that was more of a death trap. No heating, no electricity, no  plumbing that they had to shit in a bucket and played ‘rock, paper, scissors’ over who got to dump it out.  In fact they were so shit poor, forcing Jeannette and her brother to dig through garbage pails at lunch during school so they could eat enough.  I just couldn’t fathom that. This was all while the mom hoarded food while her kids barely had anything but garbage leftovers to eat. I mean Jeannette even called it our and said “It’s really not that hard to put food on the table if that's what you decide to do.”
Eventually the siblings all flee to New York to start a new life. One that didn’t involve starving or picking up and moving every few months and what becomes of her parents is something. You can tell she is ashamed of them but never completely ignored them.  She still loved her parents and tried to help them- but you could tell her and the rest of the siblings got to the point of why try anymore?  

“I wanted to let the world know that no one had a perfect life, that even the people who seemed to have it all had their secrets.”

I definitely enjoyed this book and I am really starting to like memoirs.  I couldn’t put it down once I started reading. However some of the stories hit a little close to home. Not to say that I ate garbage or only bathed once a week.  But the father reminded me of someone I knew and it made me sad, angry, conflicted I guess. I do recommend this book, another good book club pick.  It’s an eye opener for sure. I know people live like this. I just can’t believe it.   4.5 stars!

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