Friday, April 29, 2011

The Glass Castle

The Glass CastleThe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read Half Broke Horses a few months ago and was looking forward to reading this one too. I was expecting something a little darker, a little dysfunctional... but this book blew those expectations out of the water. There were times when I found this book painful to read, all the hardships these kids survived through and just when I thought things were getting better for them, their parents would destroy it. I was completely amazed that the parents had no desire to take care of their children by doing even the simple things - feeding them, bathing them, protecting them - that they felt they were doing nothing wrong. It completely boggles my mind!

The writing in this book is just as amazing as Half Broke Horses. I really felt like I was sitting in my living room talking with a friend about her experiences growing up. An amazing story brilliantly told.

Synopsis: 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.

Recommended Reading:
Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
Traveling With Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd
Fat Girl by Judith Moore
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen [unabridged audiobook] [NOOKbook]
The Help by Kathryn Stockett

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