This is my review of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.
This is a memoir, and I hate ‘reviewing’ memoirs- who am I to rate a person’s life on a scale of 1-5? But I CAN recommend you read/skip a book, and that’s what I’ll do.
Jeannette Walls is a well-known journalist. Well, I hadn’t heard of her, but that just means that she isn’t internationally famous. This is a memoir of her very colourful childhood, which was spent in many towns and living conditions.
Walls’ parents were hippie-esque in their approach to child rearing. They believed that children learn through experience, and this resulted in serious physical injury in at least one instance. In addition, her father could not hold down a job and the family often faced poverty to the point of starvation. Oh, and both Jeannette and her brother are sexually abused… by members of their own family.
She experienced experienced enough neglect, poverty and abuse for half a dozen lifetimes of therapy. But despite (or maybe because of?) it all, she emerged a successful and content person. In particular, I appreciated the fact that she describes her parents in such a positive light despite their obvious flaws and questionable parenting technique. Some narratives reminded me of the hero worship that very young children have for their fathers. It’s touching to read about it through the eyes of a child, rather than those of a jaded, bitter adult.
But this isn’t a rags-to-riches pseudo inspiring story (those never inspire me, perhaps because I didn’t start from rags, but good quality hand-me-downs?). Walls is modest and open about her achievements, and describe her and her siblings’ adult lives as normal, successful but not exceptionally so, a few failed relationships and unfulfilling jobs leading to stable families and careers.
Okay, so clearly I was impressed by the perspective. Apart from that, there’s not much to draw you into the book. It’s not embellished or dramatized and the author has an annoying way of running her words together with no regard to hyphenation.