The Glass Castle is one of the best accounts of a dysfunctional family that I’ve read. Walls’s honesty and candor bring poverty, delusion, and addiction to the forefront and paints a realistic picture of how each can affect a family.
In The Glass Castle, Walls tells her story of a harsh and nomadic childhood moving from one town to another with her brilliant, but paranoid and alcoholic father, an artistic, but neglectful and eccentric mother and three siblings, never staying more than a few months in one place (and oftentimes periods of homelessness), before finally settling in the impoverish and shabby town of Welsh, WV. There she lives for two years in a dilapidated, three-room shack with no electricity or running water until she turns 17, then follows her oldest sister to NYC to complete her senior year in high school. The plan is to establish residency in New York so she can attend Barnard College on a less costly, in-state tuition. Six years later Walls graduates from Barnard with honors leading to a successful career in writing, including securing a job with MSNBC (which she leaves in 2007 to write full time).
What I love most about this particular memoir, other than its authenticity, is that Walls recounts her childhood in an open and honest way, never overdoing it with wordy sentences or a complicated storyline. She tells her story without resentment and with a genuine love for her parents, despite their irresponsible and sometimes horrific parenting skills that attributed to most of the struggles she faced growing up. It's a story of love, hope, sorrow, neglect, addiction, hardship, anguish and triumph. Above all, I found her story inspiring.
The book is currently being made into a film by Paramount. I hope they do the book justice, but oftentimes I find the film pales in comparison to the book it is based on.