The author Jeannette Walls weaves a tale from the experiences directly linked to her childhood. The story is enthralling, heartbreaking, and inspiring all in one breathe. The opening scene spiraled me into a world I never expected.
I received an excellent book as a birthday present from my
little brother titled “The Glass Castle” and was not disappointed.
In the first page a horrible disaster strikes three year old Jeannette leaving her in the hospital for weeks. I felt horrified as the author describes this first memory from her years as a toddler. I do not want to give away too many details but the opening scene jumps right into the horrors that Jeannette experienced through the negligent and nonchalant attitudes of her parents. The most revealing and telling take away from the disaster is Jeannette’s thoughts on what had occurred. I have never known any adult that had this kind of courage and resolve let alone a three year old child. I think the strength this little girl showed stems from ironically her parents. They taught her how to be tough and independent from the moment she left her mother’s womb. It no doubt gave the child durability she would need throughout her life.
Jeannette and her siblings are the toughest souls I have ever encountered. As I read their story my emotions were constantly shifting. Some parts I just wanted to cry as I imagined the pain these children were feeling and others I wanted to cheer the whole family on. It is easy to imagine the fun these children did have despite the dysfunction. The were allowed to roam and be free which made them the successful people they would become later. There really is something to be said for the thinking of this girl’s parents; however, I experienced tons of anger and chagrin at the selfishness they display. This is especially true for the mother. Despite the father’s alcoholism I see the man named Rex S. Walls wanting to always do right by his children; whereas, I cannot say the same for the mother. Rex truly does want to be a good father to his four children. The problem is mental. He suffers a lot as a child and as an adult is a full blown alcoholic. This leads to some unsavory choices and major selfishness on his part. He definitely lets his family down time after time.
The author tells her story and makes you feel the love she has for her father. The mother in this story probably made me more outraged because somehow I just did not feel the same amount of empathy for her sorrows like I had Rex. There is an underlying back story to this which I do not want to spoil for readers. Let us just say the father had a much more difficult live compared to the spoiled mother. I just feel like Rex had issues that he was trying to overcome and just was not able to despite the want that was there in his heart to be good for his family.
The mom was plain out selfish and only thought of herself. She never once put her children first and was very lazy. The children would be starving and she would be hoarding food for herself. They would have to beg and plead her to get a job. When she did do work as a teacher the young children would have to make sure she got up for work, help her with grading papers, and keeping her classroom tidy. This made me really want to shake the mom so she would understand what she was doing to her children. Parents are suppose to raise the kids they bring into the world not vice versa. The whining that came from this woman was beyond pathetic. The only redeeming quality I found in her character was the fact when she did have money I never doubted she wanted to do right by her kids. She would buy food and necessities they needed all while trying to hide money from her drunk husband Rex in order to make it last. I was most angry at the father Rex when he was going on his drunken rampages and stealing money from the family.
No one should have to deal with that. Jeannette and her siblings are very much forced to grow up into adults and care for themselves the second they enter the world. It is a miracle they survived. These children are beyond amazing. I was on quite the roller coaster ride as I watched these kids constantly deal with upheaval, poverty, starvation, bullies, and constant emotional drama as they traveled through the desert.
The ending was a bit disappointing because it felt very rushed. One minute Jeannette is dealing with high school and living in a freezing house with no heat, plumbing, or food. She was barely getting by then she is off in New York and everything changes. I wished the author had told more of the story from those years. The entire book you are right with her feeling the pain, love, happiness, and torment she is going through. The next you are just not connected to her. I would have liked to know how she emotionally dealt with making something of her life and putting it together. I felt a bit let out throughout the story over Maureen. She is Jeannette’s youngest sister and is not very much discussed at all in the book. Small mentions are made of her but she is sorely left out unlike Brian and Lori. The wall family throughout the book are discussed in great detail. When I read I felt a connection to each of them including the parents but not for Maureen. I guess that was the point. She was the forgotten and perhaps why her story goes where it does. She was the youngest and not really never had a big role in the family. It does explain a lot of her actions later in the book,
I highly recommend reading this memoir. I was not able to put it down. Of course, this is not saying much. I usually am unable to stop reading a book until its finish. I just thoroughly enjoyed the triumphant, mental growth, and loyalty of the Walls children!