The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a book that will probably make most people stop and reflect about their own lives. The Glass Castle is a very honest book about growing up poor – very poor – but being able to one’s beginnings to overcome the odds and become successful.
Walls begins the book by describing a time in New York City when she was in a cab on her way to a party and saw her mom digging through a dumpster. Walls ducked down in the cab out of fear her mother would see her then went home instead of going to the party. Why? She was afraid he mother would call out her name and someone else on their way to the party would see them then Walls’ secret would be out.
The Glass Castle then flashes forward to Walls’ earliest memory of cooking hotdogs on by herself as a three-year old and getting severely burned. After a skin graft, Walls spent six weeks in the hospital before her dad came in and carried her out the emergency exit because he didn’t think she needed to be there anymore. This was the first instance of many where the reader got a glimpse into the strange beliefs of Walls’ parents that often put the family’s health and safety at risk. Walls was the second child of four – she had an older sister and a younger brother and sister.
The Glass Castle tells the tale of the “adventures” of the family. Her dad could not keep a steady job and was an alcoholic while her mom, although qualified to be a teacher, often refused to get a job because she wanted to follow her passion as an artist. When the money ran out and trouble was closing in, the family would pack up what little belongings they had and head out in the middle of the night for another “adventure” to a new small, remote town.
The family often went without food and Walls’ parents refused assistance of any kind. Sometimes, the only food the children ate was the food they found digging in the garbage cans while their schoolmates were playing on the playground during lunchtime.
As the children grew older, they realized they would need to leave their parents and make it on their own. Jeannette, along with her older sister and younger brother, devised a plan to move to New York City. There are setback along the way, but The Glass Castle is the story of a woman’s determination to break free from the life she grew up with.
The Glass Castle is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library in the Leisure Reading area.
Review written by Amanda B.