The Glass Castle
Scribner January 17, 2006
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitement addict.” Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town — and the family — Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.
~Goodreads page summary~
“I lived in a world that at any moment could erupt into fire. It was the sort of knowledge that kept you on your toes.”
A courageous story of a very ‘unconventional’ and trying upbringing. The conditions in which Walls and her siblings suffered are shocking and sad, it’s her voice that strikes me the most. As she tells of her history she is deadpan – no traces of anger, no accusations, rather Walls is neutral in her tone. A story of utmost resilience and moving forward. Somber and inspirational story. Great to know Walls pulled through with her sanity and professional accomplishments, could have taken a serious detour if it weren’t for her strength and intellect.
“I wanted to let the world know that no one had a perfect life, that even the people who seemed to have it all had their secrets.”