The Walls family is probably unlike any other you’ve read about. Jeannette spends most of her childhood traveling around the country whenever the family gets in trouble, eating surplus food that they can find, playing games, and searching for a way to “make it big”. When they settle down, they are unhappier than they ever were before and in the end, each sibling must make their own way in life.
At first, I was amazed that anyone could ever live this way, more so that Jeannette seemed content with her adventurous life, although perhaps that’s just her memory speaking. It was clear to me that her parents, while completely crazy, loved her and her siblings. I think it’s moving that the book is titled The Glass Castle – the name of the house that her father always planned to build for the family, though he never manages it and becomes a simple drunk instead. Underneath this veneer of thrilling adventure, there is a strong sense of unhappiness, and as the book goes along, the unhappiness just gets stronger and stronger and I really started to feel the frustration of these children. It is certainly a tribute to them that at least three of them turned out to be successful adults, while the fourth is an unknown quantity.
This is a wonderful memoir, a triumph of the human spirit over adversity. It made me very angry at times, particularly given the incompetence of the Walls parents, but I think it was a worthy read. I can certainly see why its popularity endures.
Buy The Glass Castle on Amazon.