Wednesday, November 3, 2010

October Books...

October "Books" is a little misleading. I only read one book. ONE. And I actually finished that book last night! Apparently, I was a little busy in October, what with the fair, a birthday party, various visitors, and my own birthday. Hopefully with all of the riding in the car in the next two months I'll be able to read a good bit more! At least the one book I read was great!

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a memoir describing life growing up with nomad parents who were just a bit "off." Jeannette and her brother, Brian, and sisters, Lori and Maureen, lived with parents who didn't agree with mainstream society on a lot of issues. Her mother would rather paint (something that would last a lifetime) than cook supper (something that would last fifteen minutes). Her father was an alcoholic who didn't see the point of holding down a job. He was convinced for the first part of the book that the mob was after him so they had to do the "skeedaddle" pretty often.

Despite their semi-neglectful attitudes towards their children, they were actually very loving parents. They didn't make the best decisions and they weren't always able to feed and clothe them, but they did love them.

A large chunk of the book takes place in Welch, West Virginia. The children were older by this point in the story and they'd decided to move back where Rex (the father) was raised. While their was the promise of a better life in Welch, it wasn't kept - the problems just increased. West Virginia was cold in the winter (much different from California and Arizona where they'd lived before) and their was no heat in the house. They children slept on cardboard beds. The roof leaked and when it rained they slept with tarps spread out on top of them. There was rarely any food in the house and what food they had spoiled quickly.

In high school, Jeannette and older sister Lori began saving their money to get Lori out after graduation. They planned to save enough money through their various jobs to send Lori to New York and Jeannette would follow after her own graduation. This was a plan that motivated them through the rough times (even though Rex stole their money at one point).

Finally, they all made it "out" only to have their parents follow them. But now, they made the rules. They paid their own rent and felt like they had the upper hand against their parents' problems. They were working, young adults who felt that they could help their parents but not enable their parents. All four children were able to go their own ways but they were still very much attached to one another and their parents.

The book was excellent. I really loved it in spite of all of the neglect the children endured. Parts were definitely hard to read (I cringed when Lori burns her legs after lighting a fire by using kerosene) but what I found so interesting about the story was the love the family had for one another. I cannot say that if I worked while my parents visited bars or spent the day painting or reading that I would continue to love them and have them in my life after I "got out." These children did. They stayed by their parents' sides until the very end. Their wasn't always happiness and joy, but they were a tight-knit clan and they remained that way.

I am so glad that I had the chance to read this book. I've been meaning to for several years but was asked to read it this month for a Book Club. It's an easy read with a compelling story!

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