Marcie's Reviews > The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
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's review
Jan 11, 2008

it was amazing
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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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
January 11, 2008 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 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.

message 7: by Madison (new)

Madison Schaffer The Glass Castle: By Jeanette Walls

This book is full of adventure and lessons learned. Bad parenting and acts of immaturity couldn't not necessarily rub off on there children.

A book review on this book says, "Jeanette Walls tells a story of growing up free spirited, irresponsible parents who lived life as a adventure and avoided obligation and domesticity. "(Marcia Gillis) That is showing that Jeanette must of had more freedom and growing up to do a lot faster then other children. Another book review states that “"The Glass Castle" is a memoir written by gossip columnist Jeanette Walls, which details her unconventional childhood growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother who seems to be mentally ill”. (Krenzel Jones) Walls has thought of a prompt of her childhood to write a memoir to share with everyone else.

Evidence which shows were this reader is viewing is in this quote from the story. “You should never hate anyone, even your worst enemies. Everyone has something good about them. You have to find the redeeming about them. You have to find the redeeming about them. You have to find the redeeming quality and love that for it”. ( The Glass Castel) That’s something there parents did them, “kindness”. Another quote in the book shows how she was parented. “If you don't want to sink, you better figure out how to swim”. Her parents telling Jeanette this, as a little girl was a big responsibility without support from them. Figuring out things on your own without a guide could be misleading and challenging but Jeanette today is a successful women.

My personal opinion on this book is that this is no ordinary family. Moving from state to state they experience more then others do. The irresponsibility shown by her parents are show through out the book. Many could assume that responsibility could be a challenge for these children. Jeanette’s father lashing out all the time and her mother not changing a thing was hard for the children. Her father providing food and clothes would be a plus for the family.

Although for Jeanette Walls and her family the definition for “living somewhere” could be rarely from day to day. Life without her father couldn't be imaginable, “life with her father was never boring” (The Glass Castle)

Comparisons this book has is another memoir, A Piece of Cake: by Cupcake Brown. Recommended Reading age for this book is all ages. Anyone could read this book and have a few thoughts for there self.

The Glass Castle has won many awards. A few of those are 2001-2010 Garden State teen awards, also it became a New York Times best seller in 2005.

Kathy Prendergast I think one of the things I found so compelling about the book was how awful the parents were; it was really like walking by a train wreck at don't want to, but can't help looking. Walls is a skillful writer in that she (usually) doesn't overtly judge her parents, just tells the naked truth about them, which is enough to make most people despise them. What I find so unforgivable about them is that they had no excuse for being such bad parents. They were highly intelligent, educated, and had very marketable skills. And they weren't even poor. Jeanette's mother owned an inherited tract of land in Texas that was worth a million dollars, but refused to consider selling it. Even without selling it, she could have used it as equity on a mortgage to buy a half-decent home for her kids to grow up in, rather than an unheated hovel. She also owned an inherited house in Phoenix Arizona which she refused to sell. The family lived in it briefly then turned it into a dump and abandoned it. These parents were anything but victims of poverty, they had the means to make their children's lives better; just couldn't be bothered. And what money they did have, they used most of it on themselves, the dad on his drinking and the mom on her pathetic crappy "art" that nobody wants to buy. What serious artist spends time amassing a huge "reference library" of pictures torn from magazines? (less)

message 9: by MamaLou (new)

MamaLou Marcie, A lot of great points in your review, but I have to disagree on one major point. The children acted as the parents' obedient audience and companions, but these parents did not love their children. Narcissists are not capable of love, or feeling empathy or concern for the fact they could have starved their children to death. Jeanette and her siblings loved, but her parents did not reciprocate.

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