The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
2005, 288 pages
I must make a confession. I never planned to read this book, for a couple of reasons. The first is that biographies and memoirs are very hit or miss for me, and I don’t often seek them out. The other is that, back when I worked in Borders, it was one of the “sell this book to everyone and their mother this month” books. I hated those books with a passion. I just do not like recommending books to strangers. What if it’s awful and then they blame me for forcing them to buy it? I’m just not a natural book-hawker.
At any rate, a friend gave it to me a while ago. This past week I was going through my bookshelves trying to see what I could get rid of to make space for new purchases and figured I would give it a try.
The story is this: Jeannette and her three siblings live with a couple of very dysfunctional parents. They travel all around the country, always one step ahead of the bill collectors, picking up odd jobs and the kids taking care of each other. So, it’s not super heartwarming. It’s really a little depressing. I mean, I just feel bad for the kids who don’t have money for clothes that fit, or a roof that doesn’t leak all over them.
It is, however, told in funny anecdotes that make it an easy read. My favorite quote is this: “The few teachers the town did have were not exactly the pick of the litter, as Dad liked to say, and despite the shortage, one would get fired from time to time. A couple of weeks earlier, Miss Page had gotten the ax when the principal caught her toting a loaded rifle down the school hall. Miss Page said all she wanted to do was motivate her students to do their homework.”
That might not be the most politically correct quote, because of everything that is happening now, but in the context of the 60s, it’s a little amusing. Because, safety wasn’t necessarily invented then. But it also shows just how improbable so many of the different events in the book are.
So, it’s an interesting book, and a quick read. It does not, however, put you in a necessarily happy place. So, you are warned.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 bedazzles