Title: The Glass Castle
Author: Jeannette Walls
Read: February 2nd- 5th
“You should never hate anyone, even your worst enemies. Everyone has something good about them. You have to find the redeeming quality and love the person for that.”
― Jeannette Walls,
“If you don’t want to sink, you better figure out how to swim”
― Jeannette Walls,
“It was your inner spirit and not your outward appearance that mattered,”
― Jeannette Walls,
The Glass Castle follows Jeannette’s childhood of poverty at the hands of her dysfunctional family. Although it is never stated, it can be assumed that her parents suffered from bipolar disorder. Rex Walls, her father, constantly moved them from one place to another for fear of the gestapo/FBI catching him so they were constantly doing the “skedaddle” to another dessert area. Jeannette had 3 siblings, one older sister, Lori and a younger brother, Brian, and sister Maureen. Jeannette and Brian are only a year apart so most of the book is there adventures together “exploring” and essentially surviving. The book opens with Jeannette as a three your old having to be rushed to the hospital for burns. Her mother was too busy painting to have payed any attention to her. That is the basis of their upbringing. Their whole lives were an “adventure.”
The parents had a particular way of seeing the world and seeing how people should act. Although their mother, Rose Mary, had very few good values, such as never being prejudice and to always find the good in people, she was also very blind to reality. She stood home and painted or wrote manuscripts on her typewriter, she rarely cleaned or cooked (although there wasn’t always food around to cook.) She only worked twice in the children’s lifetime, as a teacher. She had a degree so it was not hard for her to get a job. The problem was that she only got the jobs when her children nagged her to because they needed money because they needed food. She would wake up many mornings refusing to get out of bed because she was a grown woman and why did she have to do things that she didn’t want to do. While the father was rarely home, out in bars or gambling as he was trying to find money or gold to build The Glass Castle home he promised his family, which by the way spoiler alert, he never accomplished.
I would say that 90% of this book is Jeannette’s childhood from the ages of 3-17. I feel like it lightly glosses over her young adult and adult years but never feels rushed through. She did a good job of fitting her life in 288 pages. It went smoothly through the years and even with it reading like an adult book she managed to accomplish the child like feel from her early years. Jeannette, even as a young child, is smart and focused. She got things done and always managed to survive. She seemed like the only one in her family to try to find it positive in things and tried her hardest to not fall into a depression which I find a miracle in itself.
My absolute favorite thing about this memoir was the sibling relationships. They took care of each other and helped and supported each other as they got older and decided to make a change in their lives so that they did not end up like their parents. There was never resentment towards one another when one got away and the others stayed behind and he siblings pushed her for further education when she had decided it was unnecessary. This memoir shows how it is possible to change your situation if only you really focused on it and you don’t have to be what you were raised in if it was not a positive environment.
“But mom that ring could get us a lot of food”
“That’s true, but it could also improve my self esteem. And at times like these, self esteem is even more vital than food”