RAM Readers Spring 2020 discussion

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The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
This is Jeannette Walls' memoir. I try to reread this every year to renew appreciation for my life. It is hard to imagine how Jeanette was raised. I think you'll be shocked.


message 2: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments • It is a great memoir of a normal family which lives through all the ups and downs. Yet family is chosen by God, we should love them no matter what just like people love God. This book made me angry and it also put me in an in-depth thinking process. It is so hard to believe that all the plots are real. I know people like the characters described by the author do exist, but I still cannot believe it. A part of me was hoping it is only a story, a part of me was telling myself you have to accept the real-life situations. I am lucky enough having my parents who are loving and supporting me forever and ever! I love my family!

• The first chapter is a good hook which catches my eyes and then the story starts to tell from the childhood of the author. It is the weirdest family I have never seen. Parents do not pay much attention to their children. Dad is an alcoholic who is intelligent, but lack of responsibility to the whole family. He holds empty promises and ridiculous dreams. Mom devotes herself to her art and writing while she has a teaching degree to support the family. Thus, the family is always moving around all the time because someone is after them. The children have been through a lot. They are way more mature than their peers. For example, Jeannette cooked hot dog when she was only three, which ended up burning herself so badly. The original family background is terrible enough, dad uses cursing words all the time. I do not like the way they raise their children, but I have to admit they have some creative ideas sometime. The parents provide home schooling to their children by teaching them reading books, math, life skills and so on. They also tell them the truth behind Santa Claus, give each kid a start as Christmas present. Dad also invents games for kids to play despite the reason is running out of money. I believe that the author did not write this book with holding all the hatred on the mind.

• However, I still feel sad, shocked and thoughtful when I close the book. I just cannot imagine the childhood the author had. I feel so sorry for her. As literature teachers, should we explain some implicit plots to teenagers? Should we go deep or wide? Should we discuss some sensitive issues like sexual harassment, campus bullying, racial discrimination and alcoholic abuse with students? If so, what are some strategies teachers can apply to the lesson? What if some students are uncomfortable to talk for some reason, then what adjustments should teachers make? To be honest, the book consists more than I had expected. Other people’s stories make you realize how insignificant your own difficulties are. The glass castle is unreal, but the future you want could be real no matter how messed up a person’s childhood was.


message 3: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
Hi Readers,
Where is everyone? Did you all skip The Glass Castle? It's a great book. Yao, I too was extremely saddened by this story. It is a fascinating story.


message 4: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
Oops, I apologize! Getting ahead of myself. The Glass Castle isn't due until March 25th!


message 5: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments This book transmits a relevant message about how poverty, alcohol addiction, and neglect can severely impact children´s life. During the reading I felt so bad seeing how the main character Jeannette Walls and their siblings suffer hunger, cold and all kinds of mistreatment from their parents. I got shocked by the way Jeannette´s mother (Rose Mary) takes care of her children. She has an immature behavior in dealing with real situations as a lack of food in the house and does not care about other children´s needs. How can we allow a three-year old child to cook hotdogs by herself?
Jeannette and her siblings are raised by an unstable family always short on cash and food. Besides that, the family moves around the Country, frequently causing stress and making it difficult for the children to access school.
It seems that the “Glass Castle” also brings a message of forgiveness. The Transparent Palace that Jeannette's father (Rex Walls) promises to build for his children functions as a metaphor for another fanciful constructor. As a matter of fact, Jeannette´s parents were unsuited to raise children and mask their struggles to survive in a world for which they are not prepared to face it. Rex is an intelligent guy, and when sober, he teaches good things to his children, but when he is drunk, he causes problems to the family and a huge deception to Jannette, who always has a good expectation about him.
The unstable life makes a significant impact on the children´s health and behaviors, leading the adolescents to leave their parents´house and go to New York to try a new life. Eventually, Rex and Rose Mary go to Manhattan as well, but they do not stay with their children and become homeless. Even though Jeannette does not appreciate the way her parents face life, she tries to understand and forgive them.


message 6: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments The Glass Castle was, by far, the most difficult book we have read in this course. I say this because this is a memoir of what actually occurred in someone's life. The life that Jeannette Walls and her siblings endured was gut-wrenching to read. All the while, I couldn't reassure myself that this was a figment of some creative author's imagination; rather, this is the life story of an actual human being!
I was frustrated and angry throughout the entire novel. As a parent myself, I could not believe the selfishness, utter neglect, abuse, and atrocities that Jeannette's parents made their children endure. I cannot help but believe that her parents suffered from several types of mental illness: addiction, depression, delusions of grandeur. The list could go on.
I'll admit that, at points, I was also frustrated that the children just accepted their lot in life; BUT, I have to remind myself that this was the only life these children knew. And, they were only children who had very little power. The adult in me WANTED so badly for these kids to find the courage to seek help, but their intense loyalty to their family, and their fear of separation guided all their life decisions.
Throughout the novel, I kept looking for the silver lining. Something, anything. Redemption came only in the end. It wasn't until the siblings broke away and moved to New York City that they were finally able to realize what they had been missing their entire lives, and reflect on how cruel and selfish their parents truly were. Not all of the siblings were able to forgive, and I can't say that I blame them.
As for our teens, The Glass Castle is a great example of a rags-to-riches story: from unbelievable poverty to success. But, more than that, it's a great testimony of how one can overcome even the most horrific of childhoods to become functioning, successful adults.
I have no doubt that each sibling still carries many scars-- much like our teens, much like most of us. As odd as it might sound, Jeannette's suffering serves a greater purpose: to show that there can be light at the end of any dark tunnel.


message 7: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Isaiah wrote: "Jeannette Walls’ memoir was truly an eye opener to the harsh realities of the challenges that some families endure. Reading about the Walls family, it reminds me of students I have taught who were ..."

Hi Isaiah,
I appreciate your attitude toward your student, who had no food to eat. Yes. Food is the essential element students need to be well and focus on school. I got a broken heart while reading about Jeannette in her siblings suffering hunger and all kinds of needs.


message 8: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Natalie wrote: "The Glass Castle was, by far, the most difficult book we have read in this course. I say this because this is a memoir of what actually occurred in someone's life. The life that Jeannette Walls and..."

Hey Natalie,

I just can feel how angry and frustrated you are by reading your post. We also have some similar opinions like the brightness at the end of dark tunnel. You offer me other views to judge the parents. I only thought they lack of responsibility but never came up with mental illnesses. Good point!

Yao Chen


message 9: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Isaiah wrote: "Jeannette Walls’ memoir was truly an eye opener to the harsh realities of the challenges that some families endure. Reading about the Walls family, it reminds me of students I have taught who were ..."

Hi Isaiah,

Well said! I felt so touched when I read your personal story related to the novel. I was born and raised in a lovely family. Even though my parents were so busy in working, they still cared about my brother and me a lot. I knew that there are people who live in poverty and other problems, but that was not in my world when I was very young. As a grown up, I wish I could do what I can to help others too.

Yao Chen


message 10: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle was a memoir written by Jeannette Walls. Throughout the book, Jeannette describes what her life was like with some unconventional parenting from her mother and father.

As I began reading this book, I was unaware of the fact that it was a memoir. I found some humor in some of the things that Jeannette's parents did or the way that Jeannette spoke of the habits of her family. At the time, it seemed like the author was trying to lightening things up. An example includes the part where they celebrate Christmas a week later, and they are better off because their parents weren't lying to them. However, now that I am aware that it was based on her actual life, I see it all in a different light.

Towards the end, I was so frustrated with her parents. I couldn't understand how they could continue to neglect their children. I was glad that they were finally able to escape their parents, even if they had to start over on their own. So I think you can see how incredibly upset I was when their parents showed up in New York. I am glad that they were able to continue on a better path and stand up to their parents. I think it shows that there can overcome events from your childhood and create a better life for yourself.

As an educator, I would if their teachers ever noticed or reported any of the things that they noticed with the children. I know that it might have been difficult seeing as they did not stay in the same town for very long, but I think some of the signs were there. There was one part where Jeannette mentions that at one school, the teacher would tell her that her lunch was already paid for when she had "forgotten" her quarter for lunch that day. I believe that the teacher must have noticed, but I wonder if any of them ever did anything to try to help them.


message 11: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Jackie wrote: "The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle was a memoir written by Jeannette Walls. Throughout the book, Jeannette describes what her life was like with some unconventional parenting from her mother and f..."


Hi Jackie: I'm thinking like you are as an educator. As educators, we are trained to look for the signs of neglect or abuse and we are obligated to report them. Perhaps, this is a more modern way of thinking. Back when the Walls children were growing up, I think educators followed a "don't ask; don't tell" policy. I know my parents' generation has a tendency to take a "mind you own business" stance when it comes to family affairs. Growing up, it was understood that we were to keep our family struggles private; it stayed in the family. I am so grateful that topics like neglect and abuse are more openly talked about and addressed.


message 12: by Natalie (last edited Mar 25, 2020 08:23PM) (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Lourdes wrote: "This book transmits a relevant message about how poverty, alcohol addiction, and neglect can severely impact children´s life. During the reading I felt so bad seeing how the main character Jeannett..."

Hi Lourdes: I think you hit the nail on the head when you stated that the parents "tried to mask their struggles in a world they were unprepared to face." Jeannette's parents constantly tried to mask their struggles, and excuse them away. They always had an explanation for why the family suffered, and they always had an answer when the children questioned their way of life. Her parents lived by this mantra that all the abuse and neglect was only going to make the kids stronger, which is utterly bogus. The reality was that the parents KNEW they were failing miserably, but were too proud to admit they were lousy parents. Unfortunately, the children paid the price.


message 13: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments I honestly did not know what I was getting myself into when I began reading the book. This book test played with my emotions; I was angry, sad, happy, and lost for words by the end of the book.
Angry- In the beginning, I understood Jeannette's parents thought process on letting kids be kids, for example, cook hot dogs or rough playing. However, I would not let my 3-year-old cook at all! Unless it is in her play kitchen. Also, if my child fell and busted their head and was bleeding, I won't just tell them to toughen up. I almost cried when I found out that their father stole their saving for some booze! All they wanted to be a better life and they kept trying but their parents were holding them back because they didn't make anything for themselves.
When Rex took Jeannette to the bar to hustle that guy, how the grandma almost molested Brian, Rose Mary won't seel her land, just to name a few sections that upset me.
Sad- What made me sad is that Rose Mary blames her kids for her life and ALWAYS put Rex first. What is sadder about this, is that there are many parents out there that think and act that same way. As a parent, I do not understand.
Happy- Jeannette is a great sister! I caught myself smiling at the book when she gave came up with the idea to save up money to help send Lori to New York then ends up giving Lori the summer babysitting job and a bus ticket to New York. What gave me hope reading this book was how Walls kids stuck together through thick and thin. They were always looking out for each other when it came to bullies, their parents, or city life; they had each other.
Lost for words- It is amazing how far the Walls kids came to become. Through all the challenges they faced, they made it tell their story. After reading The Glass Castle, I have a new appreciation for all the hammy downs, leftover dinners, and sharing a room because the hammy downs were still good to use, the leftover dinners were warm and maggot free, and sharing a room meant I was never alone and I had a mattress to sleep on.


message 14: by ThaoTam (last edited Mar 25, 2020 10:12PM) (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments With this novel I also listen the audio version, at the first time I listened to it as normal but later it impressed me, this is the best novel that I know, I really like it. It is special because this is Jeannette ‘s memoir, it give me different feelings and sometimes I can’t breath because of her situation, I can’t image there are some kids can live like that( she and her brother – Brian spend their terrible time at school, they are starving and they stay in the toilet to reading while there friends have lunch and after that they find the food in the bin)
After reading, I keep asking myself, how can their parents can do that?( they just love themselves, they never think about the children, what will they eat today?/ how do they feel?), how can the children can survive? And I can not believe there are a family like that, if it is not a Jeannette’s memoir, Iwill think she invented it. And I admire Jeannette and her siblings. Even she had the terrible life, she become an author, she and their sibling can build their own "class castles" which their father want to have but he couldn’t.
One again, I love this novel, it is a mirror for me and every body, specially adolescents, sothat we can see ourselves in ourlife, to make us never give up and always happy with the best life we have! I will watch the film and buy this novel to reread it!


message 15: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Yao wrote: "• It is a great memoir of a normal family which lives through all the ups and downs. Yet family is chosen by God, we should love them no matter what just like people love God. This book made me ang..."
Hi Yao!
I like your questions, I think that I a good novel to teach adolescents, we should let they read it then we will have a discussion about sexual harassment, campus bullying, racial discrimination and alcoholic abuse. why?
1. It will make more interesting. Adolescent can give their own opinions about them.
2. This is a good example/lesson for them to study.
3. through Jeannette life, they will love what they have and think that we are happier than the others
4. And this is also chance for teacher to teach them more about these topic and let them know that what they should or shouldn't do!


message 16: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls is a book that shocked my life. I can't imagine how many students that I taught, but just to think one of them could be suffered like Jeannette, my heart brokes at the same time!
Her parents are dysfunctional, neglects, irresponsible, unhealthy, abusive, unstable, and a bad influence on the family. They are always moving their homes because of financial situations. Jeannette and her brothers have no good examples at home. Her father is an alcoholic and her mother is a neglected person that put in danger all family.
Her first memory, when she was three years old, her story about got burned because she was trying to cook Hot Dog IS INACEPTABLE under my eyes. They suffered a lot of domestic violence during her childhood, but she is a fantastic woman who has deep affection and generosity to her parents. She didn't bring any hate, resentiment or hurt to her parents. She was telling the story with humor, trying to justify her parents' actions.

She is a winner warrior that escaped from the bottom of the well with glory. She found the right words to express herself; in the future all my students will read this novel as an example of life. It does not matter what happens inside the home; we always can do better; even though our parents are our mirrors and reflections, we do not have to be like them. We can write our future with our own words!


message 17: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments ThaoTam wrote: "With this novel I also listen the audio version, at the first time I listened to it as normal but later it impressed me, this is the best novel that I know, I really like it. It is special because ..."

Hi Tam,
I had the same feelings. I can't imagine parents doing that with their own family. I can see how this book touches our feelings as a mother also as a teacher. We should understand and take a look at each one of the people around us, we should ask if they need help. Sometimes words bring more caring them real attitudes.


message 18: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments Diana wrote: "I honestly did not know what I was getting myself into when I began reading the book. This book test played with my emotions; I was angry, sad, happy, and lost for words by the end of the book.
Ang..."


Hi Diana
I had the same feelings as you. When you said about her mom always put Rex in the first place, it hurts to hear as a mother. She forgot how special and helpful her family is.
It is so good to see how happy you are to share the simple moments with your family: as a leftover dinner or has a mattress to sleep every night.


message 19: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Diana wrote: "I honestly did not know what I was getting myself into when I began reading the book. This book test played with my emotions; I was angry, sad, happy, and lost for words by the end of the book.
Ang..."


Hi Diana,
I like that you point out that Jeannette is a great sister! That is a happy part of the novel. Like you, I admire her generosity to save money to send Lori to New York! I agree with you that it is beautiful to see how the children get along well and help one another. It is a good example of life for young adult readers. I also enjoy reading this part because I can connect it with the relationship that I had with my sisters. We used to be very close and supportive since our mom passed away.


message 20: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Bruna wrote: "ThaoTam wrote: "With this novel I also listen the audio version, at the first time I listened to it as normal but later it impressed me, this is the best novel that I know, I really like it. It is ..."

Hi Bruna!
Thanks for your comment. And it also reminds us: we should look at ourselves, to think about what we have, what we do, we still happier than the others so we should be happy what we have and never give up when we face with challenges in our life!


message 21: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Diana wrote: "I honestly did not know what I was getting myself into when I began reading the book. This book test played with my emotions; I was angry, sad, happy, and lost for words by the end of the book.
Ang..."


Hi Diana!
I think this novel touch anybody's heart when they read it, especially we are mother. I almost cry when Jeannette and her brother get their lunch in the school's bin, and they are excited to celebrate the first Christmas on time but they can't because their parents get their money! But all of that I admind them, specially Jaenette!!


message 22: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Isaiah wrote: "Jeannette Walls’ memoir was truly an eye opener to the harsh realities of the challenges that some families endure. Reading about the Walls family, it reminds me of students I have taught who were ..."

Hi Isaiah,

I was also upset with Rex and Rose and how they were indeed unfit to be parents. I cannot understand how they could live like that. As educators, we should be vigilant of our students and take action whenever possible. I think it is great that you took it upon yourself and tried to help your students.


message 23: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments Lourdes wrote: "This book transmits a relevant message about how poverty, alcohol addiction, and neglect can severely impact children´s life. During the reading I felt so bad seeing how the main character Jeannett..."

Hi Lourdes,

I agree! I couldn't believe the things that Rose would say when the children told her something that was happening. I was very uneasy when the children had grown up, and they began to question their parents and said to them that they were not good parents, yet the parents were upset. No matter how bad things were, Jeannette and her siblings were always so forgiving and tried their best to understand their parents' actions.


message 24: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments Isaiah wrote: "Jeannette Walls’ memoir was truly an eye-opener to the harsh realities of the challenges that some families endure. Reading about the Walls family, it reminds me of students I have taught who were ..."

I want to start off by saying thank you for bringing food for those students in need. It must have taken a lot of courage for the students to trust you with a huge personal issue like that. What upsets me the most about the Walls parents is they refuse to receive government assistance do to their pride, which is RIDICLOUS. As a parent, I would do anything in my power to feed my child even if it means swallowing my pride and asking for help.
I agree with you when you said that the Walls kids learn from their parents and became productive citizens. I hate to think this but if it wasn't for Rex and Rose being such unfixed parents, would the Walls kids have been driven to become who they are today? I believe with every incident/ situation the Walls kids learned and grown to overcome, and that's what makes who they are today. The Walls kids are strong thanks to their parents.


message 25: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments Bruna wrote: "The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls is a book that shocked my life. I can't imagine how many students that I taught, but just to think one of them could be suffered like Jeannette, my hea..."
You had mentioned that Jeannette Walls tries to justify her parent's actions and tries to include humor into the situations, I agree with you. I have to wonder is that Jeannette Walls lived her whole life? Reading the memoir I belive her sidling understood how their parents and had enough of their foolishness. However, Jeannette always found the light of the end of the tunnel with humor.



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