Tribune Print Share Text

Title

The Glass Castle

Created date

July 19th, 2010
YLe0610_BookmarkGlassCastle
YLe0610_BookmarkGlassCastle

The title of the 2005 critically acclaimed memoir by Jeannette Walls refers to her father s grand scheme to build a family home made entirely of glass. Rex Walls was a brilliant eccentric always on the verge of success but not quite capable of holding a steady job or his liquor. He found his soul mate in Rose Mary Jeannette s mother an artist, writer, and self-avowed excitement junkie. [caption id="attachment_12015" align="alignright" width="240" caption="The Glass Castle (Scribner, 2005)"][/caption] Sandwiched between these two nomadic nonconformists were the Walls children three girls and a boy bonded together by a fierce love and a cunning instinct to survive. And a shared secret. There are dysfunctional families, they learned early on. And then there s the Walls family.

Poverty and hardship

Lurching from town to town in Arizona, often one step ahead of the authorities ( Time to skedaddle, Jeannette s dad would announce), they eventually landed across country in the Appalachian Mountains. There the kids took care of one another and became skilled at finding odd jobs to put food on the table. They slept in cardboard boxes, sometimes the car, or under the stars. Jeannette fished other kids discarded lunches out of the trash at school and, during the winter, lingered as long as she could in the heated classroom. Through it all, the family had one unspoken rule: They were always supposed to pretend their life was one long and incredibly fun adventure. Once grown, they escaped, one by one, to New York City for a saner life. Even then, their parents followed, eventually joining other squatters in an abandoned building in the Lower East Side. Being homeless is an adventure, Jeannette s mom explained. Jeannette Walls writes with a clear and honest pen, holding nothing back. Her storytelling is poignant, frequently hilarious, and without a shred of self-pity which makes this chronicle of growing up in the Walls family truly unique and impossible to put down.

Comments