I tried. I tried to read this book and see the "genius" in the writing. I tried to get to the part of the book where it changed my perspective, as man...moreI tried. I tried to read this book and see the "genius" in the writing. I tried to get to the part of the book where it changed my perspective, as many reviewers have described. I tried to like this book, if only just a little bit. Then, I tried to simply finish this book. I tried, and I failed.
I hated the writing style. This was not poetry to me; it was an endless series of incomplete sentences that drove me batty. I had no care or concern for any of the characters, least of all the author. She writes in very raw form, so raw that she forgot to include any spec of emotion that ties you to her. I couldn't relate on any level and I really just didn't care what happened. Honestly, she didn't really seem to care either, so why would I?
I couldn't finish the book. As I said, I tried to finish it, because I read several reviews that said they hated the book until the ending chapters, where they were blown away with its greatness (snarky paraphrasing). But I couldn't endure the torture of reading it anymore, and have since abandoned it.
Maybe I'm not ready for it right now, and I'll try again another time, but I doubt it. Sorry to my Bookclub for choosing the book!! ;-)(less)
While I am certain I must have read this as a child for school, I don't recall doing so. But as an adult, I've read this twice - once audiobook, and n...moreWhile I am certain I must have read this as a child for school, I don't recall doing so. But as an adult, I've read this twice - once audiobook, and now written format. Both times I cried like a baby. My hound has so many of the same lovable traits that Old Dan and Little Ann have (save the hunting prowess), so I just love them to pieces. This is a book I could read over and over again.(less)
Such a great historical fiction account of the lives of two girls as they grow up in ancient China. This book has sparked an interest in Chinese cultu...moreSuch a great historical fiction account of the lives of two girls as they grow up in ancient China. This book has sparked an interest in Chinese cultural history for me: the accounts of foot-binding, the secret nu shu written language of women, inner/outer realms of women and men, and familial relationships were all so different and interesting, I intend to read more for this author and others. (less)
11/22/11: Loved, loved, loved this book. I would definitely like to read this again, since it was so full of twists and turns in the plot. I completel...more11/22/11: Loved, loved, loved this book. I would definitely like to read this again, since it was so full of twists and turns in the plot. I completely enjoyed the mystery and uncertainty that was threaded through the story from beginning to end, and I was left wishing the story could continue on once I reached the end.
01/10/12 (update): Reading this for the second time, since I am hosting the book club meeting for this book, and a lot has happened in my life since I read it the first time. I still am loving this book but this time, being aware of the solutions to the mysteries, I am enjoying finding the previously-missed clues and foreshadowing. (less)
I simultaneoulsy love and hate books that make me cry... As others have said, even though you know from the beginning that Tessa will not survive, it...moreI simultaneoulsy love and hate books that make me cry... As others have said, even though you know from the beginning that Tessa will not survive, it still hits you like a sack of bricks. I think the most memorable and sad part was her "Instructions to Dad." I can only hope that when my time comes to leave this world, I am as emotionally calm & collected as Tessa - even though she is scared, she still handles it with grace (and a little deviant humor). A great story about the power of relationships and love; it reminds us to always "live like you're dying" (to quote Tim McGraw). (less)
You don't need to like or even understand auto racing to like and understand this book. It simply uses auto racing as a metaphor for life. The book us...moreYou don't need to like or even understand auto racing to like and understand this book. It simply uses auto racing as a metaphor for life. The book uses "rules" of racing as guidelines for how to maneuver through life's obstacles, as told from the perspective of a dog named Enzo. Enzo tells the story of his owner (a racecar driver) and family, who encounter many of life's greatest challenges. Enzo relates to the reader how these rules of racing apply directly to his family's ability to make it through the happy times as well as the tough times. For instance, one I particularly liked was, "The car goes where the eyes go," because if all you can focus on is the worst outcome, you're absolutely going to arrive at the worst outcome (such as slamming into the wall on the racetrack). To me, it is similar to Henry Ford's quote which says, "If you think you can, or you think you can't... You're both right."
Being a dog lover, I completely loved having a dog as the narrator. Enzo's obsession with an "agile tongue" to speak with and opposable thumbs to operate with made me smile. I honestly believe that if only my dogs could speak, they might have some very interesting (and possibly wise) observations on life. Enzo relates many times, "gestures are all I have," and it is so true - dogs communicate a plethora of emotions through their gestures. I just loved Enzo.
Between Enzo's clever observations on humans and the racing metaphor for life, I really enjoyed this book. (less)
This story was beautiful, but disturbing. It makes you realize that family is not defined by the people who share your DNA - it is defined by the peop...moreThis story was beautiful, but disturbing. It makes you realize that family is not defined by the people who share your DNA - it is defined by the people who love you and care for you.
It is extremely sad that there are parents out there who are so awful to their children, but manage to stay *just barely* within the boundaries of legality to prevent any action, despite their childrens' attempts at seeking help.(less)
It's Ozzy... so you can't be at all surprised by the language and graphic description of his various activities through the years. I loved how straigh...moreIt's Ozzy... so you can't be at all surprised by the language and graphic description of his various activities through the years. I loved how straight-forward he was about everything - no frills, no excuses, just a "here I am" approach to his life. This book had me at various times laughing hysterically, grimacing, grossed out, and shocked at all the things Ozzy put himself through. It was an incredibly interesting look into the life of a very complex man - a life that few can say they understand at all because how many can say they have experienced even a tenth of what he has?(less)
What a wonderful story. I loved every page of this book, right from the beginning. The author paints a wonderful image of the circus train, the animal...moreWhat a wonderful story. I loved every page of this book, right from the beginning. The author paints a wonderful image of the circus train, the animals, the performers, the workmen and the bosses. What a time to live in!! This is certainly one of those books I could easily re-read.(less)
**spoiler alert** This book is the story of the author's parents, Rose Mary & Rex Walls and their four children. I had already read Half Broke Hor...more**spoiler alert** This book is the story of the author's parents, Rose Mary & Rex Walls and their four children. I had already read Half Broke Horses, which is the story about Rose Mary's parents (the author's grandparents), Lily and Jim. They are such completely different stories, it is hard to even compare the two. But I definitely liked Half Broke Horses better than The Glass Castle. Half Broke Horses was inspiring; The Glass Castle was depressing and infuriating. But I still liked The Glass Castle, it is a great story about how the author overcame the adversity of her childhood to become a self-sufficient and successful woman. I found Jeanette to be like her grandmother in many ways.
The thing I found most interesting is the disparity between Lily & Rose Mary - how self-sufficient Lily was, and determined to improve her way of life; whereas, Rose Mary was self-destructive and determined not to make things better for herself. Rose Mary and Rex felt their plight was all because the gestapo had it out for them, and there was nothing they could, or wanted, to do about it. It bothered me that Rose Mary's way of dealing with adversity was to simply shrug it off and say something like, "There are lots of people worse off than we are," when they have no food and they're freezing in their home. Yet, she refused to go to work and wouldn't think of selling a diamond ring that was found, or utilizing the land and property she owned from Lily to put food on the table. It was infuriating. I don't really care that they wanted to live as homeless or nomads, but not providing the basic necessities of living (food, shelter, heat, and a bath once in awhile) for your children, in lieu of art supplies or a bottle of booze, just doesn't sit well with me.
And don't even get me started on Rex - he was just awful as a father. I don't care if Jeanette Walls thinks he loved her despite everything he did. He was a liar, a thief and (forgive the cliche), a scoundrel. What kind of father takes his daughter to swindle, and then "entertain," a man for money, then tell her he "knew you'd be fine, just like when I threw you into the hot springs to teach you to swim." I don't consider them to be even close to the same thing!
Even the Walls children made me mad at times - While they tried to get their parents to change, to go to work, to put food on the table, they usually caved in the end and became enablers to their parents' addictions. For instance, while Jeanette was taking care of the family while Rose Mary was out of town, she handed over the money (which was meant for groceries & bills) to her father so he could drink himself into a stupor, leaving her and her siblings with nothing to eat, but what they could find on their own from garbage cans or stealing from gardens.
In the end, I give the author and her siblings a lot of credit for taking what control they could manage for their lives and turning things around for themselves. And although the book made me mad, it made me think, it was well written (it told a story, it did not complain or whine) and I didn't want to put the book down on many occasions. To me, that makes a good story.
Disclaimer: I make lots of judgements in this review, and am fully aware that I have no point of reference for the Walls Family lifestyle, since I have never been faced with having to go without food, heat, or a shower. I have seen other reviews which question the truthfulness of the book, but I fully believe that everything happened like it is written, I just don't necessarily like it.(less)
This is such a wonderful story about a woman's life during the early and mid-1900's - including wars & rationing, the Depression, the dust bowl, t...moreThis is such a wonderful story about a woman's life during the early and mid-1900's - including wars & rationing, the Depression, the dust bowl, the invention of cars, machinery, indoor plumbing and electricity, terrible storms, and corrupt cityfolk - and her ability to "climb back in the saddle" and press on no matter what happened... I just love Lily - she was such a spunky, straightforward, hardworking, don't-mess-with-me woman during a time when women were mostly expected to be obedient, proper and polite. Her life was truly extraordinary, and the story of her family and their perseverance is inspiring.
The author does a great job of writing (and reading) this book in a relaxed and conversational tone. I listened to this book in the car driving to and from work each day, and the author's success in the writing of this book made my commute feel that, rather than sitting on the highway, I was sitting down for coffee with Lily as she unfolded the memories of her life to me, and the lessons she learned along the way. There are so many wonderful insights into life in this book.
Some of my favorite quotes are:
1. Jim's speech to his children about water - "The water you kids were playing in, he said, had probably been to Africa and the North Pole. Genghis Khan or Saint Peter or even Jesus may have drunk it. Cleopatra might have bathed in it. Crazy Horse might have watered his pony with it. Sometimes water was liquid. Sometimes it was rock hard- ice. Sometimes it was soft- snow. Sometimes it was visible but weightless- clouds. And sometimes it was completely invisible- vapor- floating up into the the sky like the soals of dead people. There was nothing like water in the world, Jim said. It made the desert bloom but also turned rich bottomland into swamp. Without it we'd die, but it could also kill us, and that was why we loved it, even craved it, but also feared it. Never take water for granted, Jim said. Always cherish it. Always beware of it."
2. Lily's father's comments about the cards you get dealt, and how you play them - I can't find the actual quote, since I don't have a physical book, and I can't find it right away in the audiobook...(less)
This book was a nice quick read, and it is definitely a cheesy love story, but if you aren't expecting this going into it, then you have clearly been...moreThis book was a nice quick read, and it is definitely a cheesy love story, but if you aren't expecting this going into it, then you have clearly been on some other planet for the last few years as Sparks' churns out one sappy love story after another, in book form and on the movie screen. It works for him, obviously. And while this book wasn't anything special for me, I enjoyed it. It was nice to escape to the perfect world that Sparks creates where everything works out in the end and everyone has everything they need, and true love wins out.
I could not connect with the characters, I really didn't care what happened to any of them. I especially...moreThis book is made to be a Lifetime Movie.....
I could not connect with the characters, I really didn't care what happened to any of them. I especially did not like the style of writing where only every 7th or 8th quote actually has a name attached to it - you never really know who is saying what, especially when there are more than two people conversing. I really didn't enjoy this book much at all, only read it so I could be part of the conversation at book club. Should be an interesting conversation, since I know at least two people who really liked this book. (less)