The Glass Castle

By: Jeannette Walls

This true-life tale was the latest read for my bookclub.

Image from: Google Images

 

Jeannette Walls’s father always called her “Mountain Goat” and there’s perhaps no more apt nickname for a girl who navigated a sheer and towering cliff of childhood both daily and stoically. In The Glass Castle, Walls chronicles her upbringing at the hands of eccentric, nomadic parents–Rose Mary, her frustrated-artist mother, and Rex, her brilliant, alcoholic father. To call the elder Walls’s childrearing style laissez faire would be putting it mildly. As Rose Mary and Rex, motivated by whims and paranoia, uprooted their kids time and again, the youngsters (Walls, her brother and two sisters) were left largely to their own devices. But while Rex and Rose Mary firmly believed children learned best from their own mistakes, they themselves never seemed to do so, repeating the same disastrous patterns that eventually landed them on the streets. Walls describes in fascinating detail what it was to be a child in this family, from the embarrassing (wearing shoes held together with safety pins; using markers to color her skin in an effort to camouflage holes in her pants) to the horrific (being told, after a creepy uncle pleasured himself in close proximity, that sexual assault is a crime of perception; and being pimped by her father at a bar). Though Walls has well earned the right to complain, at no point does she play the victim. In fact, Walls’ removed, nonjudgmental stance is initially startling, since many of the circumstances she describes could be categorized as abusive (and unquestioningly neglectful). But on the contrary, Walls respects her parents’ knack for making hardships feel like adventures, and her love for them–despite their overwhelming self-absorption–resonates from cover to cover.   Synopsis from–Brangien Davis @ Amazon.com

Wow!  This book was mighty powerful.  It amazes me that someone could live through what Ms. Walls did and come out on the other side of it all a functioning human being.  The story was both tragic and triumphant.  It’s worth a read but be prepared – it’s a heavy one.  She tells her story factually and without judgement or heavy bitterness – very impressive given what she survived.

I’d like to know what your thoughts are on this one.