Marcie's Reviews > The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
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's review
Jan 12, 08

Recommended to Marcie by: Cheryl

Once I let my frustration with the parents' neglect go, I actually enjoyed this book. Because of her matter-of-fact, non-whining writing, I enjoyed reading this book the entire time and actually put off other things so I could read more. As a disclaimer to my following comments, I am in no way condoning all of their parenting style and I also acknowledge they did not provide for their children like a parent should, but I have to say that I learned quite a bit from her parents! The positive things from this book stuck with me, not the negative ones, so that is what my comments will be about.
The description of her growing up years gave me ideas and motivation of how to be passionate about hobbies and life in general. Her parents taught me how to make learning fun and to see the potential in people and situations (i.e."this house needs fixing, but it has good bones"). I went away from this book with a desire to have more vigor and creativity in life and to pass that on to my children (i.e. the mom bought tons of shoes from thrift stores and played classical/jazz/country/etc. music and they danced around having a ball while learning all about different genres of music).
I also feel that we've become too much of "helicopter" parents -- hovering over our children making sure we direct every thought and action they have. We see this as helping, but I think it is actually detrimental to their own learning and growth. We are seeing the effects of dependent, inexperienced college-aged kids (this was most notable in southern CA). I think many of life's lessons could and should be learned at home, which means a loosening of the reins so that mistakes are still made while we are around to help as parents. Granted, in the book, her parents take this self-learning to an extreme, but I still learned from it. My perception is that (the US) society labels you as a "bad parent" if your child is allowed to 1)fall off a slide at the playground, 2)go without their snack one day at school if they forgot it(vs. you bringing it to them), 3) sort out a (non-physical) fight they got in with a friend without a parent getting involved, etc.
I also found it amusing that she had such hard time accepting that her mom wanted to be homeless. I can understand how she'd still be embarrased or get tired of having to explain to people, but I agreed with her mom when she said that her daughter had the problem with esteem because she still worried about what other people thought.
Anyway, it got me thinking so much about what's most important in life and how important love is (I never once doubted her parents love for her and she gave the impression that she never did either) that I highly recommend it! I had a couple friends that didn't like it, mostly because they couldn't get past things like her digging in trash cans at school because she was so hungry('People like that shouldn't be allowed to have kids' they said). But it was all the other things I learned (naming a star for your birthday) that makes me want to read it again.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Diana (new)

Diana Higgins I too had a mixed reaction to the parents and your review reminds me of some of the positive aspects (I read it some time ago). It was not a black-white scenario for me, either (as it seemed to be for many of your friends) and it raised a lot of questions in my mind. Great review!

Aimee you're review is spot on. There were several reviews that I read where the reviewers couldn't get past the neglect and the selfishness of Jeanette's parents - but my goodness there were a lot of lessons taught as well.

Myrna I SO agreed with your review!

Karla Beautiful review!! I got mixed fellings like that too! I thought how could such smart adults be so dumb? I knew it was because they were ill, but they would say or do something that was so out there it was damn intellegent!

Maude Although her parents committed countless acts of neglect and insanity, they were both highly intelligent. I think that is what balanced out the book and made me want to continue reading it despite the awful situations the children experienced. I never thought the parents didn't love the kids. It is, however, amazing to me that Jeanette not only survived, but thrived in her adult life.

message 6: by Rose (new) - added it

Rose I liked your review - and I think it's interesting that Maureen, who was probably the best looked after child because of her older siblings and friends' families, ended up remaining the most dependent and the least able to cope with the damage she had suffered as a child.

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