Thursday, January 26, 2012

Literary Bite: The Glass Castle

I read The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls when I was home for Christmas and could not put it down. This book is absolutely crazy. And I mean that in a good way. 

It’s the true story of Jeanette Walls’ (the author’s) childhood living in poverty within an insane family. And when I say insane, I mean insane. Her father was a charismatic alcoholic, and her mother an artist who didn’t really believe in raising her children. The family lived all over -- from Arizona to Nevada to West Virginia -- and were taught to see their nomadic lifestyle as an adventure.

Some "adventures" included:
  • Being “rescued” from the hospital after being severely burned at the age of 3 while cooking herself a hotdog. 
  • A visit to the zoo where father and daughter reached inside the cheetah's cage to pet the cat.
  • The father lighting their Christmas tree ablaze with his cigarette lighter.
  • The kids scavenging in garbage cans at school for food.
But some parts are nice. “In one especially lovely scene, Rex takes his daughter to look at the starry desert sky and persuades her that the bright planet Venus is his Christmas gift to her.” (NYT)

What is really touching about this story is how Jeanette and her siblings really looked out for each other. One by one they escape to New York City and help create normal-ish lives through work and school.

The Glass Castle is a great book because you really care about the characters. Every time Jeanette is disappointed by her father I felt genuinely angry at him. And let me tell you – there is a twist at the end that will kind of sort of blow your mind.

It’s a fast and interesting and amusing read – definitely worth getting this book!

This is a video of Jeanette and her mother talking about the book: