Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a memoir, which is a type of book that I don't often read. Walls tells her story of growing up in poverty with an alcoholic father and a neglectful mother. As a small child, she and her family lived mainly in various parts of the Southwest, but they never stayed anywhere very long. Eventually, the family moved to Welch, West Virginia, which is the town that the author's father grew up in.

Many of the author's childhood experiences are incredible, such as she and her siblings sleeping in cardboard boxes instead of a bed, sharing a stick of butter with her sister for dinner because it was the only edible thing in the house (and then discovering that their mother was eating a giant-sized Hershey bar), stepping through the floor of the living room because the floor boards were rotted out, or picking through the garbage at school to find lunch. If you aren't aware of the levels of poverty that exist in our own country even today, you will find this book to be eye-opening.

What really struck me, though, as I was reading the book was the author's parents. Most of the time, her father was drunk. However, during his sober moments, he seemed to be very intelligent. He would read books about physics for fun, and he had drawn up details plans and architectural sketches of the "Glass Castle" that he was going to build for the family "as soon as he got the money." He taught his children about geology and astronomy, and in his own way, he seemed to really love Jeannette, who he called "Mountain Goat." And yet he would steal the grocery money and spend it on alcohol while his children went hungry. The author's mother was actually a licensed teacher. However, despite the fact that she could apparently get a job anytime she looked for one, she normally refused to work. She felt that work was stifling her creativity, and she didn't like the fact that people wanted to hold her responsible for taking care of her children.

This is a very interesting story, and a quick read.

Total number of books read in 2009: 7
Total number of pages read in 2009: 3672

1 comment:

The Bumbles said...

I read this book in one sitting - it sucked me right in. I love memoirs and it is one of my favorites. I haven't come across anyone yet who did not enjoy this one. Glad you liked it.