November 23, 2008

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This book is a heart-breaking and fascinating memoir that I was completely sucked into.  Walls tells the story of her nomadic and insanely dysfunctional childhood with her three brothers and sisters and her abusive yet loving parents.  While her father is an irrational and unstable alcoholic, I believe in his love for his daughter.  Maybe one of the reasons I’m so fascinated by this book is the dramatic contradictions that permeate the story.  Her father, Rex Walls, is a man who drinks, curses, steals, terrorizes and creates total chaos for his children, yet underneath it all, I can’t help but feel just the teeniest bit of sympathy for this man who clearly loves his kids but is completely misguided in his attempt to raise them. 
Another source of fascination and outright awe is the resilience of the children in this story.  Forced to scrape food from dumpsters and the wastebaskets at school and to sleep under inflatable rafts to keep the water and ice off as they slept, these kids somehow managed to turn out all right.  It’s just one more reminder of how little we know about many of the people sitting and working beside us everyday and how poverty, extreme poverty, can be right under our noses and we don’t even know it.
I can’t wait to see what everyone else in book club thought of the book.  Mostly, I want to get other opinions on the mom’s part in this whole story.  It’s an interesting and gut-wrenching examination of motherhood and what it means to be a “strong woman.” 


The Library List
Harper Lee and Isaac-Tested Books to Add to Your Child’s Reading List
The Tub People by Pam Conrad
Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too
by Mo Willems
Fireman Small: Fire Down Below
by Wong Herbert Yee
Just Plain Fancy by Patricia Polacco
The Keeping Quilt
by Patricia Polacco