The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls
I do not think I have ever simultaneously loved and hated a book so much. Such a powerful and well-written memoir of a child who survived a life of neglect and multi-layered abuse. However, I hated reading this book. I could feel my adrenaline pumping as the author shrugged off absolutely deplorable experiences. I became so angry that I put the book aside multiple times to cool off. I finally just stayed up last night and forced myself to finish it even when I wanted some room to breathe. I needed this book to be over, but it was too well-done to just abandon completely.
I understand that Jeannette Walls turned out to become an amazing woman and is very accomplished professionally. However, that does not make her childhood okay or forgivable. Yes, her mother and father were very intelligent and taught her and her siblings to be independent and well-read. That's not the point. Her current accomplishments do not diminish how upset I am reading about her burning herself making hotdogs as a toddler. On the back cover, the publisher described her family as "peculiar, but loyal." Nope.
The biggest issue for me is that so much of what her family went through was because of her parents' stubborn delusions. It wasn't because her family couldn't qualify for public assistance. Her parents refused. It wasn't because there weren't teachers and other adults who didn't notice their family's suffering -- they did and tried to help but the author's parents returned any charitable donations of clothes or other resources.
I am not sure I can articulate right now precisely what I'll take away from this book, but few books have provoked such a strong guttural reaction from me. My entire body wants to scream and cry angry tears for the children who suffered in this family. I recommend the book, but not for the faint-hearted. It's also not the kind of book to take with you to Cancun as a beach read.
*I do not necessarily recommend this as enjoyable reading, but I cannot rate a book that provoked such a strong reaction from me with less than 5 stars.