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September/October 2007 > The Glass Castle - Jeanette Walls

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message 1: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie This book was mentioned in several issues (I should mention here that when I make my lists from Bookmarks, they come from all parts of the magazine - not just the reviews) and it is probably one of the most powerful memoirs I have ever read. So powerful, I couldn't put it down and read it in a couple of hours. Her story is SO unbelievable at times - well, throughout most of the book - you wonder how she survived her childhood at all. Her parents were completely crazy, and the living conditions she faced with her siblings made me shiver. If this is a book you have missed, it is a MUST READ. After hyping this book to many of my high school students, several read it and felt the same way. Teenagers like the powerful non-fiction read, and I like encouraging any reading possible.


message 2: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lbhick) | 986 comments I'm glad you liked The Glass Castle. I've seen in mentioned many times in Bookmarks and I've picked it up several times at B&N. It's a book I've put on my reading list. The next time I'm at B&N I won't put it back down. Thanks for the endorsement; I think I'll enjoy it.


message 3: by Laura Ellis (new)

Laura Ellis | 4 comments I read this a few months ago and am still undecided about my feelings on it. I know she went through many difficulties throughout her family, but it seemed to lack emotion for me. I just felt like she seemed very removed from the situation and it wasn't quite as personal as I would have liked.


message 4: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lbhick) | 986 comments First of all, let me just say "Wow"!!! OK.....

"Baptism by fire" is a fitting metaphor for Jeannette Wall's life. At the young age of 3, Walls literally set herself on fire while cooking hotdogs unsupervised on the stove. Thus begins her story and the first real memory she has of her life.

Fire seemed to be a dominant theme in Walls book. After the incident of the burn to her torso and her 6 week hospitalization, Walls instead of showing fear of something that caused pain and scarring, became fascinated with fire. She experimented with matches and setting things on fire, from chemicals she and her brother found to paper in the toilet. She had one rental where her family lived burn down. She saved her brother from a burning shed. A flash fire started at her home in Welch and one year her father set their Christmas tree on fire. I don't know if Walls intentionally set out to use fire as symbol of her life, but after reading her book I found it very apt.

After Jeannette and Brian set the shed on fire, her father described the the top of the fire where the flames dissolved into an invisible shimmering heat. He said, "...that zone was known in physics as the boundary between turbulence and order. It's a place where no rules apply, or at least they haven't figured 'em out yet."

I thought that was the zone where the Walls children lived, between turbulence and order. They took care of themselves without much help from their parents; dad was an alcoholic and mom a self-centered artist. For a while Jeannette was mesmerized by her father and their nomadic way of life, just as she was mesmerized by fire. Eventually, the reality of the way they lived set in and Jeannette fought for herself and her siblings to escape to a world of order.

I was fascinated by Walls memoir and the fact that she rose above her life of poverty and dysfunctional family. She came out of it with scars (from the fire), but instead of being hindered by them, she chose to view them as something that added texture to her life. Amazing story! I can't stop thinking about it. It truly is a must read!


message 5: by Jaime (new)

Jaime | 216 comments The Glass Castle A Memoir is one of my favorite memoirs. It was one of those books I wished I could have read in one sitting. I usually don't give my books away (I'm a hoarder) but I needed to pass this story along the minute I finished it!

Before I became a full-time at- home mom, I was a social worker and worked mainly with children living very challenging lives. Although the situations presented in the book may seem unbelievable, I know for a fact that many kids and families live lives of extreme chaos and dysfunction that many of us may find incredulous. As a reader, as a social worker and as a mother I am so grateful to Jeanette Walls for exposing her life to us in such an open and honest way. Whether helping others was a motivation for her to tell her story or not, I believe she has.



message 6: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (lbhick) | 986 comments This memoir lends credence to the adage, "truth is stranger than fiction." What an amazing story. I borrowed this from the library because I was trying to curb my book collecting addiction, but I may still have to go out and purchase it. I like to be surrounded with stories and characters that I feel passionately about.


message 7: by Barb (new)

Barb | 75 comments I was so glad I read this. It was a selection for our book group, and one of the few where we talked about the book the entire evening. Everyone seemed both enthralled and horrified by the situation. Amazing that a functional adult could come out of her childhood. Made me feel like a better parent, too.


message 8: by LynnB (new)

LynnB I just finished this one. It was a 5-star read as far as I'm concerned. Like some of the rest of you, I was both enthralled and appalled by the story at the same time. I just could not get a grip on the thought of the mother's repeated refrain that now she needed time for herself because she spent all her time raising her children -- so narcissistic and self-centered, especially when she hadn't ever been there for them at all. I just can't imagine it.


message 9: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) LynnB wrote: "I just finished this one. It was a 5-star read as far as I'm concerned. Like some of the rest of you, I was both enthralled and appalled by the story at the same time. I just could not get a gri..."

Make sure you read Half Broke Horses


message 10: by LynnB (new)

LynnB Becky wrote: "Make sure you read Half Broke Horses "

Definitely! I know it's a novel based on her grandmother's story, but what I read in The Glass Castle sure makes me curious as to what made her parents the way they were. Some of her father's possible background is in The Glass Castle, but not really too much on her mother's life. Appalling - and interesting - family!


message 11: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) LynnB wrote: "Becky wrote: "Make sure you read Half Broke Horses "

Definitely! I know it's a novel based on her grandmother's story, but what I read in The Glass Castle sure makes me curious as to ..."



Read it & I would love to discuss!!


message 12: by LynnB (new)

LynnB Becky wrote: "LynnB wrote: "Becky wrote: "Make sure you read Half Broke Horses "

Definitely! I know it's a novel based on her grandmother's story, but what I read in The Glass Castle sure makes me ..."


OK! I'm going to the library this weekend and will see if it's in.


message 13: by Carol (new)

Carol | 2 comments You'll like it too! My only complaint was it was too short.


message 14: by Linda (new)

Linda | 1488 comments I've read them both and if I hear or see that Jeanette Walls has another book, I will rush to get it.


message 15: by Barb (new)

Barb | 75 comments I heard Jeanette Walls speak at a book festival and she struck me as wound pretty tightly. Her mom is living in a guest house on her family's property and taking care of their horses. What an upbringing.


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