A tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that gave the author the fiery determination, despite its deep flaws, to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals were both their curse and their salvation, and their stubborn nonconfor... mity. Rex had four children and Rose Mary Walls had four. They lived like nomads in the beginning, moving among desert towns in the South-West, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who captured the imagination of his children when sober, teaching them physics, geology and, above all, how to embrace life with fearlessness. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't bear the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitation addict." Cooking a meal that would be eaten in fifteen minutes didn't appeal when she could make a painting that could last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the wandering life's romance faded, the Walls retreated into the dismal mining town of West Virginia -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He was drinking. He stole the money from the grocery store, and was gone for days. As the family's dysfunction escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting each other as they weathered the betrayals of their parents and finally found the resources and willingness to leave home.
What is so amazing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that with such deep affection and generosity she describes her parents. Hers is a triumphant story against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that, despite its profound flaws, gave her the ardent determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
Jeannette Walls hid her roots for 2 decades. Now it's telling its own story.
I wondered if the fire had been out to get me. I wondered if all fire was related, like Dad said all humans were related, if the fire that had burned me that day while I cooked hot dogs was somehow connected o the fire I had flushed down the toilet and the fire burning at the hotel. I didn't have the answers to those questions, but what I did know was that 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.
Mom told us we would have to go shoplifting. Isn't that a sin?" I asked Mom. Not exactly," Mom said. "God doesn't mind you bending the rules a little if you have a good reason. It's sort of like justifiable homicide. This is justifiable pilfering.
One time I saw a tiny Joshua tree sapling growing not too far from the old tree. I wanted to dig it up and replant it near our house. I told Mom that I would protect it from the wind and water it every day so that it could grow nice and tall and straight. Mom frowned at me. "You'd be destroying what makes it special," she said. "It's the Joshua tree's struggle that gives it its beauty.
“The Glass Castle” sheds light on the conditions in rural West Virginia and Appalachia as a whole. The first step to solving problems is awareness; Walls makes her readers aware of the issues in Appalachia using astounding images of indigence and dysfunction.