Monday, June 14, 2010
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Jeannette Walls had an eccentric life. Some would say her childhood was one of neglect, others might say what she endured was child abuse. And still others might see how a family tried to make the best of a bad situation, in which they might say the book is about a strange brand of hope. I think the book is about perspective, and how it can change depending on your attitude, your age, what you're told, or a million other things.
I am glad to say, I can relate little to Jeannette's upbringing. My family didn't constantly move in the middle of the night, my parents didn't let me cook when I was three, we never adopted a wild buzzard, I never ate the same food for weeks at a time (heavily spicing it when it started going bad), and I never had to worry about sleeping in a cardboard box or using a tarp as a cover because the roof leaked so badly. But what I like about the book is that because I cannot relate to much in it, I'm educated through Jeannette's narrative of a world I knew little about. I feel like my perspective on poverty, homelessness, and mental illness is a little bit different now.
This is one of the best books I've read lately. Jeannette Walls' upbringing is amazing, tragic, and funny at the same time. And it brings up a lot of interesting questions whose answers would be controversial at best; Do some people choose to be homeless? Is it better for a child to live on the brink of starvation in poverty with loving parents or to be in foster care? Can parents who treat their children the way they treated Jeannette and her siblings really love them?
You know you've read a great book when you want to learn more about it and find yourself searching the internet for more info. There's a lot online but here's one interview I found interesting: Jeannette Walls interview on gothamist.com
Reviewed by Cathy