The Glass Castle The Glass Castle discussion

Glass Castle

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message 1: by Kathleen (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:14AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kathleen Flowers one of the best books I've ever read, sadly it's an autobiography. Jeannette Walls manages to find something uplifting and life affirming even though she grew up in abject poverty. Here's a link to an interview with the author on the Colbert Report:

message 2: by Amanda (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amanda I enjoyed this book, Jeannette Walls is a great writer.

That said, there were times this book made me so angry I found it hard to keep going. The parents were selfish and so careless with their children's safety that it's a miracle the kids lived to grow up. Numerous times I wanted to scream at the parents. Obviously they were sick people (alcoholism and mental illness) but I don't think that excuses the fact that their kids were hungry and lacked the basics.

While reading this book I was amazed at the strength of will that got Jeannette Walls through her childhood.

message 3: by Maria (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:53AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Maria True - they were were pretty lousy parents - but, did you notice how the only Walls child to 'go bad' was Maureen - the youngest who from a very very young age spent all her time with the families of her friends?

message 4: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:01PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sarah The obvious neglect, abuse, and harships the walls children faced was hard to read, except that, in their way, there was love there. That doesn't excuse the inexcusable, but there was love in that family.

The tenacity of the kids to survive and enter into conventional society was so inspiring.

message 5: by Jess (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:18PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jess Gill I found the book fascinating to read - the concept that some individuals conciously select an "alternative" lifestyle, as Jeanette's did, was very thought-provoking. Though I don't condone the way in which the parents raised their children, I do find it interesting to contemplate.

Perhaps my favorite part was when her father gives her the 1,000.00 she needs to attend college - it was so selfless and sincere, especially in light of all the parents failed to give their children.

message 6: by Shannon (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:19PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Shannon I read Walls' work in December, so I can't remember this book as well as I would like to. The other day, however, I was thinking about when Jeanette works in the jewelry store and is contemplating stealing the watch. Did this stick out to anyone else? I wonder why that specific narrative would be one of the main details that I remember. The same goes for when she is younger and they live in the house where she collects the rocks - did that seem sort of... ideal to anyone else? Did anyone else wish they could escape to such an isolated community without so many things to think about? But perhaps it's just a combination of the innocence of youth and the whole the-grass-is-always-greener syndrome...

message 7: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:20PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sarah Jess, that was one of my favorite moments of the book too. I think she did a wonderful job of giving a balanced look at her unusual childhood. There were deeply disturbing moments and deeply loving moments. I so wanted to write her parents off as 'BAD PARENTS' when I started the book. Isn't life so much more complicated than a black and white, 'good or bad'.

One of the things I thought was great about her mom was her constant optimism. There was something really lovley and refreshing about it. It also was the cause of deep denial and the children not getting what they needed. It was just so real and human to see both the horrible and lovely in her life and her parents.

message 8: by Chuckell (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:20PM) (new)

Chuckell Did anyone else get the vague sense that maybe some small parts of this book were, you know, less than sincere? As in, it was all completely made up? As in, A Million Tiny Pieces and Running with Scissors and A Boy Called It? It was all too bad to be true.

message 9: by Jess (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:21PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jess Gill Sarah, you make an excellent point about life not being simply black and white. Both her parents had redeeming qualities, particularly her mother.

message 10: by Chuckell (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:22PM) (new)

Chuckell I'd suggest that no one could--but then again, I doubt anyone ever had to, at least not in this country in this century. All the events in that book were just too cinematic. I didn't believe a word of it!

message 11: by Jess (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jess Gill While I do agree that perhaps some of the events were dramatized or exaggerated to a degree, I don't believe the entire story was fiction, as was "A million little pieces". I think often, as adults, we recall events from our childhood in different ways than they occured, and may even put our own spin on them based upon our total life experiences. I do disagree, Chuckell, that events like the Walls experienced as children - specifically not having food to eat, running water, a fuctioning bathroom, or clean clothing to wear, couldn't happen in the 20th and 21st century. These situations do occur - sometimes without investigation by social services, for many years. I would say that because the family moved around frequently prior to arriving in West Virginia, child services would be much less likely to investigate. It also seemed as though some of the places they lived were "off the grid", and perhaps populated by other "eccentric" characters.

I haven't read more about Walls, but would be interested to know more about her, and the interviews she's given, before going as far as to say the entire story was fiction. Anyone have knowledge about her?

message 12: by Chuckell (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:23PM) (new)

Chuckell But the word "eccentric" is exactly what made me feel that this book was so false. It's not like they lived like that because they were poor hillbillies asnd didn't know any better--that I could possibly have believed. No, in this book Wall's alleged parents lived like that out of eccentricity, due to general of colorful-ness, and that I simply did not buy. Later, she as much as says that they weren't eccentric, but in fact psychotic. But who goes from being a crazy person living on a mountain or in desert shack to a crazy person living on the streets of New York? No one, I say.

message 13: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sarah really chuckell? As outlandish as the whole story was, I felt like it was well written and believable. Although I believe about anything is possible when living with eccentric alcoholics as your parents.

In addition, I think one of the things that is so compelling about the Walls story is the reiliency of children and the human spirit. To me this story is one of hope; some people really are able to overcome much and go on to a happy 'normal' life. I think she alluded to some things (divorces, estrangements etc) that would show that they had some relational struggles as adults.

As far as her parents ending up as two of the many homeless faces in NYC I don't understand why that is so unbelievalbe to you. I would really like to hear more about why you think this is fabricated. It is a stunning and unbelievable tale, but it didn't read as 'untrue' to me.

message 14: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:26PM) (new)

Although it may be hard for some of you to believe Walls' story I was drawn into it and found it compelling in the extreme. Amazingly written, too. I think that none of us knows what goes on in other people's houses, in others' lives.... I think there are plenty of horror stories similar to hers: people just didn't write about it. And I think that some people can rise above nearly everything. New research actually shows that resilience may well be biological.... and the reason some of us make it out of horrible situations fairly intact, while others crash and burn. I saw Walls interviwed. She seemd quirky and interesting, but normal? Who is?

message 15: by Margo (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Margo Solod i agree. i thought it was a mesmerizing read

message 16: by Jennie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:07PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jennie I think that when someone writes a memoir, they are looking through a different lens: the lens of memory, of childlike perceptions, and whatever other baggage they accumulated along the way. I think that The Glass Casltle itself is true, but I think Walls may have given a "family legend" twist to some of the scenes that may turn some readers off. I also completely buy the fact that her parents ran around the country trying to escape creditors and hide their mental illnesses/substance problems. In later day and time, her parents would have been sought for institutionalization. In an earlier time, other family members would have forcefully "rescued" the kids. As it was, they fell through the cracks of a safe childhood.

message 17: by peg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:08PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

peg Chuckell - I have heard it said that wealthy people are "eccentric" and poor people are crazy. Having worked in the mental health field in the past I can honestly tell you that there is a psychiatric diagnosis for practically every eccentricity :D

message 18: by Chuckell (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:09PM) (new)

Chuckell Now I'm starting to wish I hadn't left this book out on top of the stoplight switch box up at the corner--which is what I do to all books that I find so crummy that I'd never read them again nor inflict them on friends--so that I could go back and pick out some of the more blatantly overwrought and insincere passages. Sure, peg, I understand that there's all sorts of varieties of crazy people--I'm saying that Walls seems to have her parents being two different kinds: the kind who can keep a wacky household running, and the kind who can't function on any level. Offbeat to begin with, psychotic later. But artsy! Nah, I didn't buy it.

message 19: by Amy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:38PM) (new) - added it

Amy Chuckell, I've got to say that, out of personal experience, I find her book completely believable. You never know how "odd" other people are until you see it first hand. There's nothing so unbelievable about her parents, and there's nothing unbelievable about the ambivilance she feels toward them. It's easy to rationalize that adults with children don't act that way because they make the choice, but it's true. Some people either refuse to or are unable to see that what they are doing to thier children is harmful- they believe like Jeanette's father that they are making thier children resourceful and resilient.

The fact that Jeanette and her siblings turned out to be able to do so well for themselves isn't odd, either. There is always that fine line between becoming what you see, and realizing that there are other options. It makes me happy for them (except the youngest) that they were able to move away from all that.

And what is so unbelievable about her parents following thier children to New York? They had spent so many years with the kids as thier "audience", it makes perfect sense that they followed them around. People like that need to be noticed, and having built-in attention in the form of your children is the perfect solution. So it makes perfect sense to me.

message 20: by Robbie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:40PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Robbie Bashore One thing I was struck by here was the fact that Jeanette's parents, especially her mom, were very determined to make sure their children knew that they were good and to not let anybody tell them any different. So many children have the best material lives and "stability" in terms of their homes, yet only receive ridicule from their parents--the people they want most to love them. These kids also had the advantage of parents who stuck together in the face of much adversity. I'm not saying that they were "model" parents--far from it--but I think lots of parents could learn some lessons from them.

message 21: by Melissa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melissa I agree. Throughout the entire novel you are torn between- are these people horrible parents? or do they genuinely care about these children? I think at times the question is easier to answer than others. When the mother is lying on the sofa eating the chocolate bar, and her children are starving, and she is trying to hide it from the.

message 22: by Karen Ann (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:46PM) (new)

Karen Ann I found the writer to be unreliable. This is not an autobiography -- a presentation of facts. It is a memoir that relies only on emotion, both the writer's and the reader's. Why as an adult does this woman love her damaged, selfish parents, and why does she want us to feel compassion for them? Am I, as the reader, supposed to be impressed with her success despite her terrible childhood? I really am confused as to what the author demands of her readers.

message 23: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:47PM) (new)

The author does not DEMAND anything of her readers. She merely tells her story and lets the reader get what she wants. As for the difference between autobiograpy and memoir, that would take a long discussion. Yes, it relies on emotions, hers as the writer, and perhaps ours as readers in our reactions to it. Does she wish you to feel compassion for her parents? I think she feels compassion and some readers will, too. Does she wish us to be impressed with her success? I don't think so. She is, I believe, as amazed at the fact that she and her siblings (save for one) came out as whole as they all did....but she just tells us what happened and lets us draw our own conclusions. As a lesson, we might (if we wish) take away from the book the fact that it IS possible to rise above horror and pain and not only survive but thrive AND forgive those who inflicted that pain and horror upon us.

message 24: by Karen Ann (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:50PM) (new)

Karen Ann We are entitled to express our views regarding the books we have read on this great site without being subjected to disrespect from anyone. I prefer, Lisa, not to have you or anyone else yell at me (by using all capital letters in a word or words) in an attempt to flaunt one's self-perceived intellectual superiority over me. I find it quite distasteful to receive a hostile response to my first comment on this site. Clearly, you like the book. Good for you and everyone else who was touched by the read. In my opinion, all writers make demands of their readers. That is my opinion. You may disagree. Had the writer placed this book in the genre of creative non-fiction, then I would have no problem with her reliability or credibility. I understand the message of her story and experience, but as a person who studies women's autobiographies, memoirs, and diaries, I doubt many aspects of her story.

message 25: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:51PM) (new)

Goodness. I was certainly not shouting, Karen... I was merely answering the questions you raised in your previous post. You wanted to know what Walls demanded from us readers? The word "demanded" struck me so I emphasized it. As a published writer, I thought I would offer the pretty well-accepted idea that we writers don't demand anything of our readers. We put our stuff out there, readers read it and respond. You can have an opinion that writers demand things, but I don't see it backed up by anything. None of the writers I know demand anything. They write, hope to be read and understood, hope their work touches or instructs or just pleases. As for "studying" autobiography, memoir, diary.... and placing Walls in a different category, surely you must know from your studies that all non-fiction is filtered through the writer and that all of its accuracy can be doubted if we wish to do so. What I think you mean is that you don't believe Walls' story is True, and that is certainly open to discussion...

message 26: by Chuckell (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:52PM) (new)

Chuckell Hear, hear, Karen Ann. My problem with this book was not only that I didn't believe it was True-with-a-capital-T, I frankly didn't even believe that it was supposed to be. It felt to me like she wrote it knowing it to be a wild exaggeration, a lit'ry jaunt, and then the marketing committee at the publishing house decided it would sell better if it was published as straight nonfiction, which, as far as I'm concerned, it patently wasn't.

message 27: by Little (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:53PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Little Chuckell, you seem to be under the impression that mental illness is homogeneous. (i.e. the symptoms one experiences one day will be the same as the symptoms one experiences the next day.) Mental illness isn't quite so nicely cut and dried. Often a person with mental illness can function quite nicely- or at least get by- sometimes, and other times be completely incapable of, say, getting out of bed and feeding themselves.

I'm not going to argue about how fictionalized this book is. I've met people with crazier life stories than Walls. And honestly, it didn't get my dander up when A Million Little Pieces was revealed as fiction (horror!) BUT (that's caps for emphasis, not for yelling) it is important to me that mental illness not demonized in a discussion of literary accuracy. There are enough roadblocks in the way of people with MI as it is without the rest of the world going, "Ah, who are they kidding? That's not what it's like to be bipolar."

message 28: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:54PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sarah I am really surpised that people question the authenticity of the book. I would like to hear more about what it is that seems so patently false. It struck me as completely believable, but then again, I have lived with people with mental illness. I understand that the book could really strike someone in a negative way, but the idea that the whole thing is just false is perplexing to me. It's not like it paints Janette Walls in a better light to tell this story. Im curious to know what folks think is benefiting her if she did, in fact, make the story up.

message 29: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:55PM) (new)

hear, hear!

message 30: by Chuckell (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:57PM) (new)

Chuckell Why would a writer punch up a story? Is that really a question that needs to be asked? What's more likely: that a family would exist the way this book describes; or that a writer could embellish, distort, and/or simply make up wacky details for a more saleable manuscript? At any rate, my reaction to the book was that reading it felt like fiction, whether it was or not, so in that respect as far as I'm concerned the writing was unsuccessful. I'd rather read fiction that feels like truth--as in, We Need to Talk About Kevin--than truth the reads like fiction.

message 31: by MsBrie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:58PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

MsBrie Thanks! I missed that Colbert report. Loved the book though.

message 32: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:58PM) (new)

I still don't agree with Chuckell's assessment of The Glass Castle but I DO agree that We Need to Talk About Kevin is a brilliant brilliant book. Head spinning, smart, scary, and very believable. Highly recommended.

message 33: by Sarah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 01:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sarah Chuckell, you didn't say what you found to be so false. I guess you think everything was false?

It think the fact that she outs herself as the writer with the homeless parents would be enough to not want to write the story. People feel bad enough placing their parents in assisted living. I can't really imagine what it would feel like to know my mom was out there somewhere midwinter. I think it would take about 15 minutes of internet sluthing to find out truth surrounding the base facts of the book.

message 34: by Leslie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leslie Those who question that this book could be 'true' should work in a school. We see a lot of kids who have wild, crazy, amazing, scary stories that couldn't be 'true' but are.

message 35: by Valerie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Valerie I read this book, and I found it to be hair-raising but believable. I've also read a few interviews with the author, and an interesting point that I think supports the truthfulness of her book is that she did have siblings. None of them have come forward to challenge the veracity of her tale, and she did in fact worry about how they'd receive it. I know that this doesn't prove that everything in the book is true, but I think if it was a wild fabrication one of them might have challenged her account.

Here's a link to one of her interviews, if anyone is interested:

I also think it's interesting that she is now a gossip columnist (digging up and exposing OTHER people's secrets). The irony :)

Paula I don't really question the book's truthfulness. For two being what you (Valerie) has stated and another reason because it is believable and perhaps factual for many people in this country. There is an unbelievable amount of selfish, mentally ill parents who have children and "raise" them. I could write my own book that follows the line of The Glass Castle. I was actually suggested to do so by a high school English teacher years ago.

How sad that it may be and how many people want these sort of lives not to be true... but reality is that they are true and there are people out there that are even worse off than the lives in The Glass Castle. Unfortunate but true!


Paula >>From Karen Ann...I found the writer to be unreliable. This is not an autobiography -- a presentation of facts. It is a memoir that relies only on emotion, both the writer's and the reader's. Why as an adult does this woman love her damaged, selfish parents, and why does she want us to feel compassion for them? Am I, as the reader, supposed to be impressed with her success despite her terrible childhood? I really am confused as to what the author demands of her readers.<<

When I read a book, I do not search for what the author demands but what I find demanding of my attention. Nor did I ever think that Wall's wanted me to feel compassion for her parents or herself...she was just merely telling a life story and take it for what it is. That's just my opinion though.

I think all children (as children and adult alike) want to love their parents unconditionally, regardless of their illness, faults, errors, selfishness. No matter how much a parent is not helping still want to love them and you want them to love you. You can love someone, have them even live geographically close but keep them distant emotionally. It is extremely hard to do but it can be done.

And perhaps...she is learning from her parents on what and who NOT to be. Regardless of how uncomforting that trait is in a is a helpful one to Jeannette Walls to live a life that is productive.

Cheryl S. Parent like the Walls give me job security in the Emergency Room where I work. I wish there were fewer like them around. It's very hard to work with children you suspect have been abused when you know they don't understand there is anything wrong with their situation. Unfortunately when they're little they think it's normal.

Cheryl S. What were the mother's redeeming qualities?

Ehrrin I can't verify whether all the facts in the book are true or not, but I definitely didn't find them unbelievable. As a daughter of a father who was both mentally ill (bi-polar disorder which he refused to medicate) and an alcoholic, I didn't find this story to be such a stretch. I think that Walls did an amazing job of telling her story, complete with her honest and complex and ambiguous feelings about her parents, and without asking for sympathy.

As an aside, I grew up in southern WV, and the abject poverty that many, many families experience and the lack of social services (and the issue of pride in not accepting "charity"/social services) is no exaggeration. And, as another aside, I was reading this book while home over the holidays, and my mom saw it and recognized it as the book that her boss had read recently. He'd grown up in Welch, and went to high school with the author. He didn't know her well, but knew that she and her family were very poor and that her dad was known both as a drunk and as a "colorful character".

I haven't read anything about the author (yet), but my mom said that her boss had mentioned that Walls has given up her career as a gossip columnist recently because she'd realized that much of her motivation (in dishing dirt) was, in some way, to punish those she felt were presenting one face to the world, yet living another. And, then she realized that she was being a hypocrite since she was 'in the closet' about her bizarre and destitute childhood. Hence the memoir.

I thought this was an amazing book.

message 41: by Robbie (last edited Dec 29, 2007 01:32PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Robbie Bashore Ehrrin:

Thank you so much for posting your perspective and inside information. I, too, felt like the book was completely believable. A lot of people (myself included at times, of course, although I work to remedy this) are unaware, or refuse to believe, that there are ways of life and value systems very different from their own. Another book I recommend to further knowledge of other U.S. cultures is Random Family, LeBlanc.

Ehrrin Robbie, that's one of my favorite books (Random Family). Such a fantastic observation of a lifestyle that most people don't know about or acknowledge. And, the research and writing are amazing.

message 43: by Chuckell (new)

Chuckell This story is so crazy, it must be true, right? Never mind that the manias seem inconsistent, much more in keeping with how a sane person might think a crazy person acts than any true insanity. Whatever, sorry, I'll stop visiting this thread and leave you all to your belief that a writer would never make stuff up just to sell a book.

Valerie Chuckell: If you feel that you need to leave a thread because people disagree with your assessment of a book, that's your decision. But everyone is entitled to their own opinion - even if it's not the same as yours.

message 45: by Chuckell (new)

Chuckell Well, one hates to feel like a troll. I feel like I'm bringing everyone down--the reading of this book, if you accept it to be true, gives a nice warm glow: you hear about someone who truly flourished in the world, despite amazingly long odds. That kind of thing really does happen, of course--which is why books like this, which purport to be nonfiction but aren't, really (and yes, obviously it is just my opinion that that's what's going on here), make me so mad. Sell me well-written fiction or plainly-written fact, just don't sell me fantasy dolled up as reality, which is just how insincere I found every page of this book to be.

Sarah You know Chuckell, You keep saying over and over again that it's 'not true' bla bla bla. If you had any evidence *whatsoever* to support your claim I would be interested in what you have to say. The fact of the matter is that Im not going to believe your internet identity over my life experience knowing mentally ill folks. I also have a hard time believing that Walls would have spent so long on the Best Seller list without **Somone** outing her as a fraud.

But since you seem so sure that it's a great big fake, bring on something factual to support your feelings. Great, you found the book to be insincere. You have only said that about 4 or 5 times now in slightly different ways. You are the one who is fueling the conversation about 'is it true or not'. Heaven for fend anyone respond to your posts with a different opinion.

Valerie The only other thing I have to say in response to Chuckell's latest post is in response to him saying:

"...the reading of this book, if you accept it to be true, gives a nice warm glow: you hear about someone who truly flourished in the world, despite amazingly long odds."

I never felt a nice warm glow while reading this book, or after finishing it. Most of it made me want to puke, actually. And even at the end, I still felt like the author's life was pretty messed up, even though she had come through so much.

Also, I've read A Million Little Pieces, which was later shown to have been exaggerated, and parts fabricated. Finding that out didn't really bother me for some reason - I think I read that book with the same approach that Chuckell read The Glass Castle - like there was no way it could be true. And then when I found out it wasn't (at least partially), I wasn't too surprised. If, however, the same thing happened with The Glass Castle, I WOULD be surprised. I swallowed this one hook, line, and sinker.

Valerie After thinking a bit more about Chuckell's comments, I decided to do a little internet search to see if I could find anything that suggested that Wall's memoir wasn't true. I didn't.

But I did find a transcript of The Larry King Show where Walls was on a panel discussing the discrediting of James Frey's book (A Million Little Pieces). I think they probably would have vetted her pretty well before putting her on the panel.

Walls had already written The Glass Castle, and here's a small excerpt from the show:

KING: By the way, Jeannette Walls -- Jeannette Walls, rather, what are you writing now? You said you're doing a novel?

WALLS: No, no, I'm not. I'm actually no good at making things up. I tried to write my memoir, fictionalized, and I couldn't do it. So I stay away from that.

KING: What's next?

WALLS: I don't know. I'm kicking around a couple of ideas. A couple of people have suggested a sequel, but I really pretty much already milked my life of everything that I have to say.

The full transcript can be found here:

message 49: by Chuckell (new)

Chuckell Two words: Love and Consequences.

message 50: by Christy (new)

Christy I'm fairly new to this site, so I hope my opinion is welcome... I found the book to be lacking sincerity as well. I discussed this with a co-worker of mine who felt the exact same way. There are things in The Glass Castle that just don't ring true to me.

The best example I can give is this: How is it that a girl without a real concept of personal hygiene, who safety-pinned her shoes together and colored her legs in order to hide the holes in her pants, somehow obtain and keep a job at the nicest jewelry store in town? Either Jeanette skipped some pretty pertinent things, or it seems darn near impossible. I don't care how horny the store owner is, he probably isn't going to risk losing business in order to hire a smelly waif. Oh plus she was thirteen but he hired her because she said she was seventeen??? Thirteen year olds don't look like seventeen year olds. They look like the children they are.

I don't doubt that a lot of the things in the book happened. However I think she highly exaggerated parts of the story in order to make her plucky, pulled-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps memoir, that much more shocking.

A lot of people loved this book. I didn't hate it, but I did feel that it was a little smug and self-congratulatory.

All in all, the story was compelling and the writing was actually very good, but I didn't buy it wholesale. I don't think it is outright lies, but she took some license with her memoir and embellished for the sake of readability, structure and tension.

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