37. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Topic/Theme: book recommended by a family member
The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.
The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.
Jeannette wrote about her experiences growing up in a dysfunctional and poverty-stricken family as prose. I'm typically not a fan of prose because to me, it lacks that special pizazz as in fiction to keep the story flowing a bit better. I did appreciate Jeannette's ability to recall her childhood memories with vivid detail, as well as not being resentful to her parents. This memoir is a perfect example that not everyone grows up as fortunate as others. Growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother with a probable mental disorder and not wanting to raise a family, Jeannette and her siblings learned how to fend for themselves. I liked how she talked about good memories when her father was sober as well as the bad times when he wasn't sober and was destructive. Alcoholism is a disease and we, as society, need to realize that. I think it's hard for people who haven't been through it or known someone who has to relate and understand it. In Jeannette and her siblings' case, they were able to overcome their peculiar childhood and be successful when they got older. I don't necessarily agree with how they were raised, or lack thereof, by their parents. Even as their children became successful, their parents still preferred to be poor and homeless despite offers from their grown children. If they want to keep being that and doing nothing to change that, then so be it, whatever - as long as they're happy I guess.
What I enjoyed more about this book was the symbolism behind the glass castle. Jeannette's father always told her that he would build the family a glass castle after finding gold, or means to do that, as a way of living life without authority and live in better prosperity. After reading this, I could clearly tell that that was never going to happen and obviously, it didn't happen. To me, the glass castle symbolized something to look forward to, like the good after the bad. It could also mean all the times that Jeannette's father let her down. I feel like you can interpret in any which way you want to after reading the book.
Happy Reading and Keep on Writing!