The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls
Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10
10 Genuine Things about Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle
(May Contain Spoilers)
1. Brutal Honesty
It takes guts to share a story about ourselves. It is especially hard if it doesn’t portray those we love in a good light. Walls’ parents weren’t ideal and I appreciate that she was honest about them even when it was evident that they were not fit parents.
2. Her Father’s Behavior
I really despise when someone tries to make excuses for someone else’s bad behavior. We are each responsible for our own actions, end of story. Yes, Walls mentions that there is a possibility that her dad was abused sexually by his mother but she does not offer this as an excuse for him being a raging, irresponsible alcoholic.
3. American Poverty
While poverty is tragic in any county, a lot of Americans believe that it is not a problem in our country. Or they assume it only affects certain races. Nope, poverty in American exists and affects all races, some more than others obviously. I love that Walls painted the full picture, it wasn’t just dirty, torn clothes. It wasn’t having enough to eat. 1 in 6 children in America faces hunger, not simply going without a snack but actual hunger from lack of nutrition and substance.
4. No Excuses
I appreciate that Walls didn’t waste any time speculating on why her mother behaved the way she did. There were no excuses, just statements of facts according to Walls’ perspective.
5. Great Description
Walls really excels at description. She provides enough to allow you to understand what she is experiencing without losing her audience. Nothing more boring than a book that goes on and on about the scenery or details that are unnecessary.
6. Enticement of Fire
Walls had an unnatural draw to fire after being burned badly as a child. Obviously, fire is dangerous and has already hurt her but she is still enticed by it as she gets older. This is a great parallel to her parents. They make similar choices over and over again. They get burned, things fall apart, things don’t work out but they still chase “the adventure.”
7. Good Pacing
Overall, the story moved at a great pace. I was never bored and I kept reading because I wanted to know what would happen next. I also never experienced confusion in the book as to where we were time-wise or place-wise. I always appreciate this! George R. R. Martin needs to learn how to do this, just saying.
Thank you Walls for not just including the struggle you experienced growing up. But most importantly, you included how you survived, your siblings. While I believe sharing our struggles with others is necessary to create connection and to allow each of us to realize that we are not actually alone. I believe it is just as important to share how we survived, how we coped, and how we overcame. This allows for hope to blossom and provides examples to others on how they might cope.
Jeannette Walls shows respect to everyone included in her memoir. Never does she condemn her parents for what they believed or how they raised their children. Even when she couldn’t comprehend why her parents choose homelessness, she respected their wishes to live the way they wanted to. It would have been really easy for Walls to pass judgment on them and write about that in her memoir. Instead, she simply wrote how things were from her perspective without judgment.
10. The Lesson
Walls mentioning how difficult it is that she lives a good life in New York while her mom lives homeless in New York at the same time is great! While Walls is in no way responsible for her parents’ well-being, she feels guilt for this and I think this is a very real thing that many people feel. I hope like Walls, they will come to realize that you can only be responsible for your behavior and feelings, thus only your life. Others will make decisions that we may not understand, but it is their life, not ours.