My mom talked about this book years ago, so I thought it would be a good addition to my book list. However, I had a hard time really digging into this book.
Jeannette Walls is the second of four children raised by an alcoholic father and a mother who may or may not have had mental issues. (Based on the fact that the mother insisted that her pregnancies were each 14 months long and the fact that she said sexual assault was a crime of perception, I’m inclined to think she did have some mental issues.)
The Walls children never had an easy life. Their parents were constantly moving the family to one little shack town to another. Due to his alcoholism and sometimes volatile temper, the father could never hold a job for long, and the mother was too busy painting and writing to pay her children much mind. The children were often left to fend for themselves. They were skinny their entire lives because they often didn’t have food at home. Jeannette eventually resorted to eating food from the garbage that her classmates threw away at lunch time.
I initially had a hard time getting into this book because it seemed crazy that a family would actually live like this. Everything just seemed too unbelievable.
Still, I kept reading, and by the time Jeannette reached her teens, I had to keep reading to see what happened.
This story, while a sad tale of poverty in America, also tells the story of human resilience. Jeannette and her siblings had every reason to fail in this life, but instead, the majority of them went on to live very successful lives.
Another interesting aspect is how your mental state affects your actions. Jeannette’s older sister, Lori, was a talented artist who wanted nothing more than to move to New York City and make a living from her art work. She tried many strategies to get out of their small town, but after several of them failed, she mentally gave up and resigned herself to a life in West Virginia where they lived. Had Jeannette not pushed her, she never would have ended up in New York City.
Jeannette, meanwhile, never succumbed to depression or insecurity. She knew she’d get out of West Virginia, and she was willing to do whatever it took to get out. Her determination never wavered.
In the end, I did enjoy this book.
4 out of 5 stars on the Mom’s Plans’ scale.
Have you read The Glass Castle? If so, what was your opinion?
If you haven’t read it, what’s a good book you’ve read recently?