Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle By Jeannette Walls

This is the unforgettable true story of Jeannette Walls experience growing up.  Her family is unique and completely crazy and amazing at the same time.  I wondered the whole time how each child managed to survive their childhood physically and mentally intact.  I would label this book memorable, shocking, funny, inspiring, sad and extraordinary.

Memorable:  The most memorable part of the book for me is when the family is  traveling down the road in their car called Elvis and the Jeannette's dad makes a sharp turn and the backseat car door opens and Jeannette falls out of the car and lands on the gravel road.  She has pebbles embedded in her face and on her skin and she begins to pick them out as she sits on the curb to wait for her parents to figure out she is no longer in the car and then make the drive back to get her.  She wonders the whole time if they will come back for her and after a long wait bleeding by the side of the road, she sees their car approach.

Shocking:  Jeannette's Paternal Grandmother shocked me.  She was a large woman who lived in a falling down house, who kept a bottle of hooch in her housecoat dress.  She was smelly, drunk all the time, mean, ugly and abusive to her grandchildren and probably abused Jeannette's Dad when he was a child.

Funny:  There were instances of humor throughout the book but usually they were funny in a sad sort of way.  The part that sticks in my mind is that Jeannette's mother made her father attend church and he hated it.  Because he hated it and was frequently drunk during mass he made crazy comments that got him and the whole family kicked out of church like this one on page 114. The quote comes from Christmas mass.   "Virgin, my ass!" Dad shouted.  "Mary was a sweet Jewish broad who got herself knocked up!"

Inspiring:  All of the kids were gifted and their parents taught them to read by the time they were three years old.  Each of the four children were extremely independent, self-sufficient and smart as they were frequently left to fend for themselves.  Their dad took them on great adventures with his wild imagination and taught them quantum physics.  These children were deeply loved!

Sad:  The saddest part for me pervades the entire book when you realize how hungry these kids were everyday and that their mother and father refused to get welfare or food stamps.   Jeannette and her brother had to dig in the garbage at school for their lunch.  Search for their dinner in the woods.  One time they noticed their mother eating something and hiding it in her bed while everyone was crazy with hunger.  They found her hiding a chocolate bar under the covers.  The kids then split it four ways.

Extraordinary:  This is one extraordinary family and one extraordinary story to engage in.  I encourage you to read it and to find the extraordinary in your everyday existence.

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