What an incredible memoir by Jeannette Walls. The introduction really said it when they said that some people have a story to tell, but it is rare when they can do it really well.
The Glass Castle is a fitting name for a story of a family that was always on the go and continuously striving for the better things in life which always seemed to be just out of reach. The Walls parental figures proved to be smart loving and parents of incredible tenacity, however, they embraced challenges that most of us would think are unacceptable.
In the memoir, Jeannette tells the story from the perspective of being a daughter among four children and what it was like living in extreme poverty. She tells the story of her years starting at 3 years of age until her early thirties, but focused on the formative years of about 5-17.
I learned about true love and loyalty that comes even without money, and how truly great gifts can be given without spending a dime. You heart may weep a little when you read about Jeannette’s father giving her Venus; such artfully clear emotions expressed in her prose. You will also grow close and love an alcoholic Father and probably see yourself having trouble saying no to man that clearly loves his family but struggles a lifetime with the demon of alcoholism. Jeannette’ s mother cannot say no to him and when left alone to care for the family Jeannette herself finds out just how hard it is to say no to her father in the grips of alcoholism.
You will enjoy the journey that the family takes as they avoid bill collectors, police and others as they skiddattle away from various places in Arizona, California and finally haw they make a semi permanent home in Welch, North Carolina.
The story takes you on the journey of the children growing up in such poverty, and as they grow older they end up deciding to leave and make their own way in New York City. One by one they all leave, and in desperation to keep the family together their parents follow. If you are not careful you will forget the powerful first two pages of the book, but the story all comes full circle when the children break free of the poverty and small town views and stand on their own, despite their parent deciding on a life either on the streets or in squatters quarters. The children feel sorry for their parents, but it is the parents who worry that their children have lost their soul.
Irony strikes the reader right in the face when they discover the “worth” of Jeannette’s mother and find out that she chose to live as she did due to strong values of keeping the item of “worth” in the family and never wanting to sell it. I hope not to spoil the better part of the story, but that is what gives the story the added bit of sentimentality; not to mention the children’s response to their dying father.
I cannot recommend this story enough, it is a great read that will teach you about what love looks like on the side of the tracks that you may not know about.