Annalisa's Reviews > The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
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's review
Oct 13, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: book-club, memoir-biography
Recommended to Annalisa by: bookclub
Read in September, 2007

What I loved about this book is this: it presents her parents, with all their faults, and the poor mentality, at its worst, without anger, exasperation, or even really any judgment, just with the quirky love we all view our own childhoods. If she had been bitter in her description it would not have been believable, but instead it was tinged with forgiveness making me respect her for not only surviving such a strange childhood to become a successful, even functioning, adult but for being able to view her past with impartiality.

What was thought-provoking for me was the idea that if you think you're a victim you are and if you don't you're not. As appalling as her mother's reaction was to her troubles, it's true. We do overprotect our children at the price of their own growth sometimes. And in this society we are on the jumpy side when it comes to misconduct, but telling someone they have been victimized isn't always best for them. It's not empowering. We've gone so much to the other extreme that it was good to reconsider a sway more toward center. There has to be a medium where we aren't making children grow up as toddlers but also not sheltering them from making their own decisions until their adults.

There are also a lot of class "poor" mentalities in the book. The way the family never planned for the future as in aimed to use any gift or income to exponentially improve their lives, but horded means until they ran out. They tore down what they had until it ran out. They lived day to day. They took advantage when they could. The old adage that you give a man a fish he'll eat for a day but teach him to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime is moot. They were not concerned with bettering their station in life only getting all they could out of it today.

I found it strange that both parents were so highly intelligent and capable and yet they chose to be homeless. It bothered me that they thought the best existence would be to throw their burdens on society and let it care for them without realizing, or caring, that someone was paying and working for their existence. It bothered me that they didn't think of their children's welfare above their own but used them like they would any other member of society. At times I found my blood boiling at the actions of her parents. That's what dysfunction will do to you.

And yet, she presents the incidents without anger or hurt. It happened. It shaped her glasses of the world. But the past isn't a happy place to live. She took what good she could from her experience (or bad to learn from) and moved determinedly from a childhood she didn't enjoy into an adulthood she could pick. And that's what a memoir should do: show us the past to affect the future, not to give us a place to live.
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02/25/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5)

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message 5: by Liz (new)

Liz I too enjoyed this book for what it was. I enjoyed that there was not blame, and was presented in way that that was simply the way it was. No excuses.

Joann I agree. We make what we can of our lives and she did wonderful things with hers. We need to also reflect on the fact that in spite of or maybe because of her upbringing, she became a happy and sucessful adult.

Kristy I don't know how you could go through all of that and not be so freaking angry... What a good soul, Jeannette Walls must have. Ah, I loved this book.

Ellen Gill But the parents really were not poor. The mother owned valuable land in Phoenix and Texas. She chose not to uplift her family, likely due to mental illness.

Lisa Vegan Fabulous review, Annalisa, and I agree with you, and I'm in awe of the author. Truly. Because I can't imagine having her attitude about her childhood, but it was thoroughly enjoyable to read about it and definitely good to read about the lives the kids made for themselves. I also enjoyed reading your review.

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