The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Ok I’ll freely admit that non-fiction is usually not my cup of tea. Why? Because so many of those books are about sad times, sad childhoods, dysfunctional families, drug/alcohol use- I could go on and on. While I enjoy a dark and twisted novel (I’m looking at you Gillian Flynn) I enjoy them even more because while the story may have a “ripped from the headlines” feel- it’s generally a work of fiction.

However, I’m in a book club and this was the pick. And while I’d probably given up halfway through the lady who picked the book was a little upset that the books she’s picked previously (before I was in the club) were not enjoyed like other picks. So I gave it the ole college try and I read the book. And the book made me mad, frustrated me, made me want to throw my Kindle against the wall. This book is depressing. It’s just one bad thing after another after another. This family has went through terrible things. But even through it all, I think, Jeanette hoped that somehow her family would change.

The parents in the book make a good case for people who should never, ever have children. It wasn’t they didn’t love them, I think they did-in their own dysfunctional way. They were just so ill-equipped, so irresponsible, so unfit to be parents. Dad’s smart- but a drunk. Mom’s got talent as an artist- but probably suffers from some sort of depression (maybe even bipolar). Mom’s an adventure junkie, and Dad is too.

No matter how bad the Dad is-stealing money from them, drinking away to nothing- you SORT OF understand. He’s an alcoholic. However, the mom…. Selfishly eating a candy bar while hiding under the blanket and her kids sitting around starving. The kids find a diamond ring (a 2 carat diamond ring) and want to pawn it- she won’t let them because the Dad took away her wedding ring and she thinks that “having something pretty will boost her self-esteem”. Sure, I understand that having pretty things will boost your self-esteem- but that is beyond selfish. I could go on and on about the tales of those 2 characters.

In the end, for better or worse, and some with more emotional wear on them- the kids survive the childhood. And still manage to feel good emotions (for the most part) about their parents.

This book, while great for some people, was not for me.

Has anyone read this book? Thoughts? Comments?


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