Books Reviewed / Memoirs

Building up: The Glass Castle

Hello everyone,

We’re already down one week in January of 2013! Can’t believe 2012 went so fast! To kick off this year PopCrunchBoom is leaving you with those promised catch-up reviews! Also stay tuned for a look at what PopCrunchBoom is hoping to get their hands on for this coming 2013!

Remember to Read it! Love it or Hate it! then Write about it!

Building up: The Glass CastleThe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Published by Scribner on 17 January 2006
Genres: Adult Biographies and Memoirs
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

A tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that, despite its profound flaws, gave the author the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
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.

Today’s Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Details:

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a touching memoir about Walls’ life growing up in a poor nomadic, and yes, eccentric family. She details her childhood through the eyes of her younger self and brings readers on quite a ride. Many reviewers say you’ll end up both loving and hating her parents as you experience the multiple events of child neglect and their lack of maturity and care throughout the work. I know there were many instances that did not leave me a fan of their parenting skills. Along with childhood memories, Walls brings the reader through multiple cities from the West all the way to the East. Readers also learn and fall in love with Walls older and younger siblings through her story. So take a deep breath and plunge into this story of survival and success as Walls’ tells her touching story of the past.

What We Thought:

We weren’t surprised to learn that The Glass Castle was on The New York Times’ Bestseller List. Walls has a way of capturing the story in a believable and entertaining way that had us glued to the pages. Her writing style has become a quick favorite of PCB’s and we’re hoping to pick up her second true-life novel based on her Grandmother’s life, Half Broke Horses.

While reading The Glass Castle, with all memoirs written about childhood, one has to be a little open minded about early childhood memories. As writers will tell you, not everything from age 3 is a crystal clear memory. However, Walls doesn’t skip a beat with her retelling of her early childhood days. She starts her flashback with a powerful and memorable childhood event that occurred when she was 3. Already she draws readers in. With her chosen narrative being that of a child, Walls quickly creates believability in her telling and doesn’t over flourish certain memories or have us reaching to believe certain details by being overly specific in her retelling.  Instead, she writes like a natural; as someone sitting down with a cup of tea retelling that one time she was cooking hot-dogs in a pink tutu as a child.

With memoirs, you’re not only critiquing the author’s writing skills, but you’re also critiquing their life. Unlike novels, you can’t look for bad plot twists or poorly developed antagonists. What we looked for and what we came to enjoy is the way in which Walls captured her family members. In a sense like character development, Walls had to clearly portray her siblings and her parents and show the change as they grew just as she grew during the memoir. We’d consider this to be a hefty task to take on, considering most novels focus on character development over a short period of time or within the same age range; whereas Walls had the challenge of showing character change from small children (and young parents) to adulthood (and mature parents). We believe she nailed the task successfully! We felt we really got a sense of every one of her family members. The only family member that had us a little set back by was her younger sister Maureen who we didn’t see that much in the novel, especially after Maureen’s early years as a child. Although we would have liked to see more glimpses of Maureen’s personality and life, we as readers understand that Walls wasn’t close to Maureen like her other two siblings and Maureen later wasn’t very active in Walls’ life.

Overall, we felt the memoir was successfully written and a clear bestseller. Would we recommend the read? Most definitely! It’s not a light-hearted memoir despite the multiple episodes that made us laugh. If you’re not in the mood for a cry or a some-what serious read, then but this memoir further down on you to-read list. Otherwise, pick-up the book the next time you get a chance and give it a spin! We bet you won’t be disappointed that you did!

Have you read The Glass Castle? What did you think about the memoir? Let us know in the comments below!

Happy Reading!!



P.S. Did this novel have you yearning for more memoirs? It definitely had me falling in love with the genre!

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