Wednesday, 3 June 2009

The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle (2005) is a memoir written by writer and journalist Jeannette Walls. For years, Walls hid the 'secret' that was her childhood; she was ashamed and afraid that if anyone found out who she 'really' was that she would lose all that she had worked for in life.

Starting off with living in 'the desert', Walls chronicles the many ups and downs that constituted her family life with parents who were both creative and intelligent, yet endless drifters, always ready to do the "skedaddle" at a moment's notice. This involved packing up their four kids and worldly possessions into whichever clapped-out old vehicle they happened to own at the time and heading to the next place, often to escape circumstances or the authorities that were chasing them. Somehow, they made it all seem like an adventure, when the reality was the complete opposite.

After moving to Welch, West Virginia, things continue to get worse. The children dream of escaping to New York City, which they manage to achieve one at a time after supporting each other for several years. It's only when their parents eventually follow them to live on the streets as homeless people that the children realise things will never change.

The Glass Castle is a fine example of determination and overcoming obstacles which can stand in your way. The tale is made even more bittersweet upon the realisation that those people who you should be able to rely on most (family) can sometimes be the biggest cause of one's problems. Yet, the narrative is never downbeat or dismal. It is a story of hope, dreams, and ambition, punctuated by Walls mother's insufferable, yet completely misguided, optimism.

Here is an interview with author Jeannette Walls, which outlines the first chapter of The Glass Castle and sets the scene for her memoir. Very highly recommended.

3 comments:

Arual said...

I ♥ this book! I couldn't put it down. I read it with shock, awe and ended up inspired because of it.

La'Tonya Richardson said...

I look forward to reading this book. I'll add it to my list "To Read." Sometimes, I feel like just picking up and wondering off. The thought of adventure seems so romantic. The consideration of past the romance, where to sleep, eat... has a shocking reality. And I so want to do the 101 goals in 1001 days challenge.

Quirky Mon said...

This is on my reading list for this year :)