The Glass Castle Book Review
By Alexis Mercer
Undecided. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so torn about a book before. So here are my thoughts and maybe by the end of writing them down I will have come to a more concrete opinion.
First, a quick synopsis. Jeannette Walls writes a memoir with her book The Glass Castle. She is one of three children in a dysfunctional family; the father an alcoholic, the mother an artist who has no desire to work to improve their dismally poor conditions. Jeannette weaves the tale of her childhood, hopping from town to town, one side of the country to the next until settling in her father’s hometown of Welch, West Virginia. It was there the children really learned to fend and care for themselves until all three eventually escaped to New York City one by one. The story isn’t over until her father’s passing, many years later, when Jeannette is grown and married.
1: Jeannette Walls is a wonderfully gifted writer. Her sentences flowed, the read was easy but not too easy that it was boring.
2: The conflict is of great importance: poverty in America.
3: I greatly enjoy memoirs. Hearing about real life through others’ eyes always captivates me.
4: I found myself stretched in a way when I read it. I feel a great need to place myself in someone else’s shoes, look around, and try to understand her perspective. I was able to do that and felt I grew after having walked in Walls’s shoes (or perhaps bare feet since she didn’t often have shoes).
1: I just can’t find it in me to like Walls’s father, Rex. I tried. I can understand how Jeannette as a child would not know any better and of course love unconditionally. But I felt as though as an adult she was trying to justify his actions in the book. And there just isn’t justification for his actions.
2: Was she trying to justify his actions in the book? Maybe she wasn’t. The fact that I couldn’t decide if it was that or maybe just speaking kindly of him knowing he did the best he could is bothering me still.
3: Walls’s mother. GAH. I know I don’t have to like her actions. I know that isn’t the point. I found myself mentally hurting for her inability to change her situation despite the potential to do so in multiple ways.
Nope. I’m no more decided now whether I truly enjoyed the book or find it to be someone trying to justify her parents’ actions in a way that makes them look good.
I see that I have one more pro than I have con. But the cons are big time cons. They even out in my brain.
Here is what I know for sure. I don’t always have to like a book to find it worthwhile. And for that reason alone, I recommend that everyone read this book (if you haven’t already, because probably most of you have). There is no doubt that I find this to be an important book to have read. I needed to read a book that was well written (so not bad in that sense) and yet leaves me contemplating its contents.
Maybe when Book Club meets I will hear what my friends have to say and find a way to decide exactly how I feel about it. Until then, I’ll ponder some more.
**Head to Flying Bear Books in downtown Newaygo to get your copy today!**
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