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The Glass Castle

From goodreads:

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.

Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

Pages: 288 paperback

Rating: 7 out of 10

Source: Checked out from the library

When I first began The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, I did not know what to expect.  The book was selected for our next book club discussion. As I started reading, my stomach began to hurt immediately.  I had a very hard time reading about all the neglect.  Based on positive reviews of the book, I imagine that I should have been inspired by how the author and her siblings overcame such adversity.  However, I could not get past why and how the kids were placed in such bad situations.

**Spoiler alert**

I was glad to see how Jeannette and her sister Lori made it to New York and were then able to bring their siblings, Brian and Maureen.  However, I wanted to know more about their adult lives.  For instance, both Jeannette and Brian had romantic relationships that ended.  I wanted to hear more about how their childhood impacted the ways in which they formed relationships as adults. 

The parents belief that children should not be coddled was taken to such an extreme.  Her optimism and denial in the face of such adversity made me angry.  Although, I did feel sympathy towards her when Jeannette was leaving for New York and her mother expressed jealously; her feeling of being trapped was came to light all too clearly.

While Jeannette and her dad had a special relationship, he aggravated me very much. A pivotal point in his relationship with the kids came when he took money from the piggy bank. It felt like he was sabotaging their dreams.  Although, I think he was so consumed with addiction that he had a hard time seeing the impact of his actions on his family.

In spite of my frustrations with the parents, I did feel the tenderness among the family members. When the father passed away, I cried.  I also loved when the family came together for Thanksgiving years later and toasted him.  One thing I learned from the book is that even when you live in dire situations, it is still possible to create happy memories.

I am also counting the book for the following challenges:

What's in a Name Four: I am counting this for the jewelry or gem category.

2011 Global Reading Challenge: All of the story takes place in the United States, I am counting it as my book for North America.

Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2011 at 1:22PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

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