Book Review #18 – The Glass Castle (Jeannette Walls)
The Glass Castle, a memoir, shares Jeannette Wall’s experience growing up with her parents. Her parents who in many basic ways flat out refused to care for their children. Refused to get or keep jobs, refused to get or keep food, refused to get or keep clothes. Her whole childhood is on the move, from one dump of a house to the next, until they buy a place in West Virginia with no heat or running water. Where all the kids poop into a bucket that someone buries in the backyard. Where there are so many leaks, kids put tarps up over their bed. Where there is no food and the kids eat out of the cafeteria trashcan. Walls manages to portray all of this, and also all of the love and nourishment that did exist inside the house. Eventually, the three older children moved to NYC and had successful careers (Walls herself went to Barnard and became a writer). The book raises a lot of questions about family ties, burdens, and obligations — what do we owe to our children? What do children of misguided (and abusive) but loving parents, owe them? What do siblings of such trauma owe to each other?