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The Glass Castle
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Group Reads > The Glass Castle Discussion! (MM May '14)

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Taylor (seffietay) Lots of people have been talking about this memoir, let's give it a go and chat about it!

The memoir spent a total of 261 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list and is now under development as a film by Paramount. By late 2007, The Glass Castle had sold over 2.5 million copies, had been translated into 22 languages, and received the Christopher Award, the American Library Association's Alex Award (2006) and the Books for Better Living Award.


Taylor (seffietay) The month is halfway over already (ughhh) has anyone picked this up yet?


Brianna (mamabri) | 6 comments I haven't been active on Goodreads for like a year, but I'm just going to chime in and say - Read this book. Seriously.


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
Uhmmm.... I picked it up from the library! Soon. Soon.


Taylor (seffietay) Thanks Brianna!!! I'm looking forward to it, it's been recommended to me by tons of people.


Taylor (seffietay) I just started it tonight and I'm hooked ready!! The writing flows well and it's definitely not boring...


Taylor (seffietay) So yeah this was a really great memoir. It was well written, funny, and in the same vein as Chanel Bonfire; a casual/humorous re telling of a painful childhood under the guidance of parents suffering from undiagnosed mental illness. My comments re: Chanel Bonfire were that I wished the author had included more information about finding help for family with mental illness, and I'll repeat that comment here. There was also an instance (or two) involving a cavalier dismissal of sexual abuse that I thought was perhaps a bit too casually included. That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I definitely recommend that everyone read it.


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
Yes, I'm finding it delightfully readable. I needed relief from some far more depressing reading, and so I just started browsing through this, thinking I would probably need to save it for later - but she grabbed me like a fish on a hook and I've barely put it down since.


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
I'm not sure if Jeannette Walls considers her parents to have been mentally ill. She definitely considers her father an alcoholic, but I think she would simply call her mother eccentric and selfish. I think the only one she truly considers ill is her youngest sister. Of course an objective outsider might see the situation differently. Really, as sympathetic as Walls sometimes appears, how can she not be furious at the childhood she got?

I also didn't see the scenes of sexual abuse as being dismissed. I think Walls was appalled, and wanted to scream from the rooftops, but when all the adults are telling the kids it doesn't matter, there's just not much she could do. But, finally, this book is her (way too late) scream for help.


Taylor (seffietay) Ha maybe it's because I work with individuals with mental illness that I am more sensitive to the behaviours of others and try to force a diagnosis on them, even if it's a bit drastic. Perhaps mental illness is not wholly correct, but her Mother did seem to suffer from depression at times, and was most certainly eccentric! What shocked me most, and maybe I phrased weirdly in my comment above, was the Mother's dismissal of the strange man who assaulted Jeannette in her sleep. I can't even... what kind of mother would ignore something like that?? And to do nothing to prevent it from happening again, it made my brain hurt.


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
Yes, I am far less tolerant of her mother than her father. I can see the father's awareness that he has screwed up, I can see his occasional attempts to reform. I don't see any guilt on the mother's part, any sense that she has responsibility towards her children. The one scene where I finally lost any tiny left-over bit of compassion for her was the scene with the chocolate bar.


Taylor (seffietay) YES the chocolate.

I was really glad that Jeannette brought up the topic of what causes homelessness. I have worked with numerous individuals that are homeless by choice (though, of course, many many many are homeless due to other circumstances). It was interesting how her teacher chewed her out for trying to suggest this in her classroom. Some people DO elect to live outdoors or in a more nomadic way, even when they do have money and property at their fingertips. It's true!


Alexa (AlexaNC) | 1256 comments Mod
Yes! The difficulty though is the disconnect between looking at homelessness from a public policy point-of-view, and looking at it from an empathetic point-of-view. The individual counselor has to look at the needs of each particular person, while the policy advocate has to look at the major causes. So for the professor (looking at the best policy for society) Walls' analysis could definitely be seen as almost dangerously counterproductive. Does that make sense?


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