Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle: A Memior
Jeannette Walls

288 pages

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor. (Amazon.com)

My Thoughts -  This is one of those books that really opens up your eyes to another way of life.  We know that we all have issues that we do not like to discuss in public but Jeannette Walls's life as a child was a nightmare in my eyes but somehow she learns to survive and learn from the trials and tribulations that we associate with homelessness, addiction, and mental illness.  Her parents were a contradiction in how they saw their roles as parents.  They were always teaching their children something but in the next paragraph they were sleeping in a car and going hungry.  Family was very important but at the same time the parents were very selfish and thinking only of themselves.  In spite of the life the children were forced to lead, they grew up to be successful with some damage but  generally healthy adults.

I read this book for a book discussion group and it lead to many very good conversations.  I think that we all went away with a different vision of homeless people.

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