rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Glass Castle is a book whose images and characters you'll have trouble getting out of your head. Jeannette Walls's has said in her interviews that she had to face the demon, which was telling people about her poverty-stricken childhood. Her parents moved her family around a lot when she was under 10 to avoid the landlord and the bill collectors. Sometimes the children went without food and these kids were never supervised. She feared that once her New York friends found out about where she came from they'd leave her at worst, or laugh at her at best. Neither fear materialized. The Glass Castle stayed on the New York Times Bestseller List for a year and her book encouraged her readers to tell her about their difficult childhoods. There'll soon be a Glass Castle movie.
To me, the "Glass Castle" represented her parents, Rex and Rose Mary's, lost potential. Rex was brilliant in math and science, but was an alcoholic and Rose Mary could have made a living as a artist, but she lacked discipline. Rose Mary told the kids that they'll learn from their mistakes, but they never did. At one point, they even owned a house outright, but still moved anyway to face more poverty.
Jeannette had to survive being tossed out of a car, a dark, bumpy ride in the back of a U-Haul, bullies, explosions, child molesters and cockroach attacks. And there's more. I can't imagine having to live without running water for seven years or hearing your mother saying it's OK to eat maggotty-ham.
The amazing thing is that Jeannette's early experiences made her stronger and she still loved her parents despite everything they put her through. One of the sweetest moments of the book was her dad giving her $950 to finish school.
Please read this book even if you don't normally read memoirs. You'll find a true example of unconditional love and forgiveness.
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