Friday, April 6, 2012

Book Review: The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

I just read this book for book club tonight and even though I had read it before (about 2 years ago) I couldn't wait to get into it again because I love LOVE LOVE this book!! Before I get carried away, here is a brief synopsis of the book:

• It is a memoir, the true childhood story of the author.
• It begins with Jeannette trying to reconcile her feelings about her mom being homeless in New York, and to work through these uneasy feelings she begins to talk about her childhood. And so the story goes from her first memory when she was about 3 to when she moved out of her parent's house at 16 and then to how she got to be where she is now.
• There is a lot of hard stuff to read in this book, and yes, there is some (quite a bit) of bad language, but all the language issues are spoken by her dad who is just a rough and tumble kind of guy. You just have to decide if that's something you're okay with, and for me, I don't feel like a bad person for reading it.
• There really is a lot of hard stuff to read in the story. It is very sad for the majority of the book, just the experiences she had no child should have to go through, but there is such hope and child-like innocence in her writing that the sad stuff is only sad to the reader for a while, and that helps me get through it.
• However, there is a lot of really amazing things to read in this story. The coolest part about this book, Jeannette's life, is the juxtaposition of her family's loyalty to one another and also their contempt for each other's life choices. On the one hand it's completely insane, and on the other it makes complete sense. (Maybe that says more about my sanity than the people in the story's.) 

I cannot say enough good things about this book. I think everyone should read it at least once in their life. It is so eye-opening and has made me so grateful for the family/parents I have and has caused me to re-think some judgments I've made about people because I simply cannot know what goes on behind their closed doors. I just assumed everyone would love the book when it was picked for book club, and when a friend told me she stopped reading it because it was too sad, I think my heart broke a little. I admit that I have this kind of sick fascination with really difficult reads (another favorite of mine is a memoir of a woman who survived the Rwandan Holocaust by living in a tiny bathroom for 3 months with 7 other women), but these hard stories make me want to live my life better. This book makes me want to be kinder to strangers, kinder to my parents, kinder to my daughter, and kinder to Nick. And I think a story that can light that fire under you is worth reading. Twice. Or maybe more.

So, no surprise here, but this book gets
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

If you have read it before I'd love to know what you think! Leave a comment or send an email with your thoughts!

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