The Glass Castle—Probably more of a ramble than a review
First thoughts: This book made me want to call my parents and thank them for not effing me up as much as they could have.
I organize a book club where books are chosen by member suggestions followed by voting and this was not a book I voted for. It’s likely due to me being drawn away from non-fiction, biography style novels, though whatever the actual reason, it was not one I wanted to read.
The description of the book written by Jeannette Walls from Goodreads goes like this:
“The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.
The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.
The Glass Castle is truly astonishing–a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.”
The father is Rex and he’s one of those characters you feel conflicted about, as in: Do you like him? Is it ok to like him? Should you feel bad about yourself if you do/don’t like him? He does some pretty awful things and then there are times where he says/does the most perfect thing he could possibly do in that moment. He lies, drinks, steals, cheats, and abuses but he loves, encourages imagination, and at times tries to better himself for his family. I could see some of my own dad in him.
Jeannette is the author, the main character, and the viewpoint from which the story is told. She’s one of four siblings and she is smart, ingenuitive, and as realistic as can be. It’s evident that she is her dad’s favorite because she’s often the only one who believes in the good inside him, much like my own relationship with my dad. I related to her on many levels.
Rosemary, the mother, drove me absolutely crazy. I understand she was a free spirit and didn’t really want the responsibility that comes with having kids but many times she could have done something to make things better and actively chose not to. Throughout reading, I never felt sympathy for her.
Some of the book was painfully hard to read and thankfully nothing I had to deal with growing up. The Walls family was hungry often, moved a lot, and lived without modern amenities like electricity and plumbing for periods. Luckily for me I grew up in a stable home which always had water and heat and though sometimes I got tired of mac and cheese and PBJ sandwiches, I never went hungry.
All in all, I found myself enjoying this book immensely. A tale of success and happiness after hardships and loss really makes a person count their blessings and maintain hope for the future. I’m forever grateful to my parents for making my basic needs a priority. I recommend this book to mostly anyone – anyone who had a great childhood to make them more thankful, anyone who had it rough to remind them they’re not alone and anyone in the middle who just wants to read a good book. That being said, if you are one of those people who feel no sympathy or empathy when reading, don’t bother- you’ll get nothing from this book. If you’re going to focus too heavily on character faults or you feel like every story has to have some kind of purpose or lesson, maybe find something else.