I am pretty good at keeping up with trending books, but every once in awhile I will find a book where I totally missed the boat. I was scouring Good Will and I saw a copy of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I remembered seeing it on Goodreads and that my friend Janessa had rated it 5 stars so I decided to pick it up. Even then, it sat on my shelf for awhile before I finally decided to read it.

“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.” — Goodreads

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This was a five star read for me. For me, giving such a high rating to a nonfiction book is not a small feat. Walls wrote such a captivating story that kept me up way too late reading. I felt so invested in her family, and her story.  It truly represents just how complicated familial love can be. We can love our families, while still not understanding them.

After I read the book I decided to watch the film adaptation, and I just have to say that Woody Harrelson truly brought Rex Walls to life for me. He was charming, and infuriating, and exuded love for his children all at the same time. The book moved me, and so did Harrelson’s performance.

There is a John Green quote that says, “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

This is one of those books for me. It feels raw, and it feels important, and most importantly it just made me straight up feel.


 

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