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review 2017-07-22 16:52
The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls

To say that Walls had an unusual childhood would be a massive understatement. She didn't have any of the stability with a roof over her head or meals to eat that most children in the US take for granted, but she did have some amazing once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to do things that many of us will never do.

I'd like to say that this is due to that her parents rarely followed the rules (or, you know, laws) and gave her and her siblings even fewer to follow. She was a child of people who had the kind of wandering existence that I've known some to pine for, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows.

In fact, it seems like it was hardly ever sunshine and rainbows. They'd have long stretches of okay times with fairly regular meals and then periods of near starvation where they had to go through the trash to eat. But their parents did have an odd splendor in the way they dealt with such an extreme level of poverty. They weren't perfect, but Walls manages to tell the story in a way that never quite judges them. They were who they were and she seems to have accepted that, even when it embarrassed her.

There were a few stories I really loved, one of which I am totally keeping in my pocket just in case I'm ever at that point with my own family. There were also lots of points in the story where my heart broke for Walls and her siblings. Some people are well suited to "adulting" and others are not, her parents are just not those people. Their hearts appeared to be in the right places though. Or maybe it's just the way Walls tells the story.

She tells the story as she encountered it, not inserting knowledge from later in life to situations, not guessing what may have been in their minds based on information she had down the road. She doesn't seem to be protecting them either, never shying away from their less attractive traits.

The movie based on her life will be out soon (August 11) and I'm thinking about seeing it, though not in the theater. We don't normally go to the theater for movies we can't take the six year old to. After reading the book, I'm not 100% sure I want to see it, but the cast intrigues me. Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson both have the ability to be heartbreakingly vulnerable about the worst parts of a person and I'm not sure how they're going to portray it. It would be easy for any director with these actors to make it heart-warming or heart-wrenching. I'd be happy with a combination. The book left me with that Good Will Hunting feeling where they went for the heart but it left me with a good feeling overall. I hope the movie does that to.

Have you read the book? Are you planning on watching the movie?

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review 2016-10-15 21:52
The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls

I enjoyed this. I got pretty into it, cheering for Jeannette and her siblings throughout the book.

The mom annoyed me, always saying she needed to stop living for others and take care of herself when that's all she ever did and she had 4 children to take care of. And the dad taking money from his own children... Generally, it was a very frustrating book. Haha. But in a good way.

 

*Reviewed on June 2, 2016.*

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review 2016-05-31 15:55
The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls

All right, hold onto your pants while I take you on this review. I picked this book up for $1 at the thrift store after reading the back of the book. Here is what it says:

 

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.”

 

 

As a woman who comes from a crazy family, how could I resist such a synopsis?! I started reading this book with high expectations from the author. It is after all her own personal story. Let me tell you, she did not disappoint. Somehow, Jeanette managed to make her memoir into a beautiful fairytale that distracted me from the horrors that she endured as a child. She made every move her family made, every day her and her siblings starved and dug through dumpsters for food, into an adventure. My heart hurt for the Jeanette and her siblings, but more than that, it gave me a view into the way other people choose to live their lives. I say choose, because there is no other way to describe what these parents put their children through.

 

Usually when I read a book, I feel the way the character feels. If they hate someone, I hate them too. While I really tried to feel the love for her parents and the devotion she had for her drunk father, I couldn’t get over their selfishness or the neglect they put their children through. It could be me being a parent or a teacher who sees the outcome of students placed in neglect and homelessness, but I could NOT find any inkling of appreciation for the author’s parents.

 

“I’m a grown woman now,” Mom said almost every morning. “Why can’t I do what I want to do?”

Hmmm…maybe because you’re a mom and it’s not just about you!

 

I have to commend Jeanette Walls for putting herself and her family out there so much. She weaved beautiful prose and poetic styling into a tale of the heartbreaking reality she endured growing up. That couldn’t have been easy.

 

“One time I saw a tiny Joshua tree sapling growing not too far from the old tree. I wanted to dig it up and replant it near our house. I told Mom that I would protect it from the wind and water it every day so that it could grow nice and tall and straight. Mom frowned at me. "You'd be destroying what makes it special," she said. "It's the Joshua tree's struggle that gives it its beauty.” 

 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I sat down and read it in one sitting, I was so hooked. Usually this type of writing is not for me. I rarely find myself reading a memoir or book of non-fiction, but I am sure glad that I did. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to get a different perspective of life and see things from another’s point of view. It was good, so damn good.

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review 2016-01-30 00:00
The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls This book caused me to run the full gamut of conflicting emotions. It was extremely difficult to read at times, as I'd experienced a profound sadness and anger for the deplorable circumstances of which Jeannette and her siblings had no control. To have the ability (and courage) to lay out her history in a way that was pained yet objective despite a dysfunction sustained by parents who, even with their obvious intelligence, couldn't get their acts together, or even seemed to want to…well, that's what carried this memoir for me. It was superbly written, insightful, and drove home the point that even though we can't choose where we come from, we can choose where we end up.
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text 2015-08-17 23:08
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