Title: The Glass Castle
Author: Jeannette Walls
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir, Contemporary
First published: 2005
Finished reading: July 14th 2014
“But the positive thoughts would give away to negative thoughts, and the negative thoughts seemed to swoop into her mind the way a big flock of black crows takes over the landscape, sitting thick in the trees and on the fence rails and lawns, staring at you in ominous silence.”
I have been blessed with a lot of great reads lately, and The Glass Castle is one of them. I’m normally a bit hesitant when it comes to reading memoirs, mostly because it makes reading somewhat too personal and most memoirs are actually quite depressing. But I’m glad I picked up The Glass Castle anyway, because it was simply amazing. The life of Jeannette Walls and her brother and sisters is not an easy one to tell, and I admire her courage in deciding to tell her story. When you are reading The Glass Castle, you feel she isn’t holding back and shows us the moments of her life exactly as she experienced it. Sure, the story is depressing at some points, but it is also intriguing, moving and overall impressive. She tells us casually about some of the great difficulties she went through when she was growing up, and that actually makes you wonder how it REALLY would have been like growing up in a similar situation. A definite must read for non fiction lovers!
Jeannette Walls didn’t have what you call a normal childhood. Rex and Rose Mary Walls are not the typical parents and have different ideals than most people. During the first few years of Jeannette’s life they moved around continiously, living like nomads and enjoying the wilderness. They slept at places along the road and lived in small desert towns for small periods. When problems arose or things got out of hand, they would simple skedaddle, as Rex Walls used to say, and move on to the next destination. Rex was a brilliant and imaginative man with one big problem: alcohol. When sober, he was able to conquer the world and his four children admired him. Rex was their teacher and was able to teach them great life lessons, although the alcoholism left its negative mark on some of those lessons. Their mother Rose Mary was a free spirit who loved to paint and write, and didn’t believe in the practical things and necessities of life. That quality both learned her children to appreciate the beauties of life and condemned them to a difficult childhood…
When things got out of hand, they end up moving to the hometown of Rex Walls. After living with his parents for a while, they buy their own house. Although it is practically falling apart, Rex and Rose Mary don’t mind and do not bother to make many improvements. Rex is more interested in getting his next drink, and Rose Mary is still lost in her own world and her paintings… Jeannette and her brother and sisters are practically left to take care of themselves, and even then their parents are working against them. Soon the children are dreaming of leaving home and finding a better place to live… Because they realize the glass castle their father Rex promised them to build will never become a reality. The kids dream of New York, the city of many possibilities, and work hard to make that dream happen.
And even though her childhood was a difficult one full of challenges, Jeannette still describes her parents with a lot of affection. It shows that a family can be hold together for a long time with unconditional love, and that other mayor flaws are not as important as that same love. The story shows that both Jeannette and her brother and sisters try to help their parents improve their life, both when they are still children and when they are all grown up. Rex and Rose Mary have their own ideas of how quality of life is judged, and never want to alter the way they live. They don’t care about the material things in life, and are happy with the way things are, even if that means living on the street… A strong message in this material world where we cannot imagine living without phone, internet and computer, let alone running water and electricity. Like I said before: a definite must read!