The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
After reading Jeannette Walls' second book, Half-Broke Horses, I was eager to read this one, her first book. This is memoir. Walls describes her less-than-ideal childhood growing up as the child of an alcoholic father and a free-spirited mother. Most other people considered the Walls family "poor white trash" and she shares the story of waking up in Oklahoma after sleeping in the car, surrounded by grinning adults and teasing children -- "We out-Okied the Okies" is her conclusion. Her family was poor, they were often hungry, and they lived a nomadic life: Arizona, California, Nevada, West Virginia were all places she called home. Despite the hardships, it's clear that Walls had a deep love for her father and family. It's also clear that even as a child she somehow understood that her life wasn't normal. It was interesting to see Grandma Smith (the subject of Half-Broke Horse through her child's eyes. Having read the second book first, it's easier to understand her mother's motivations. I was also impressed by the way Walls' was able to find the figurative "gold" in the way she was raised. Even though her father never found the real gold he was constantly seeking, Walls managed to mine her life for the moments of wonder and splendor: the millions of stars at night in the desert, the beauty of her geodes and rock collection, the realization that she was strong and could handle everything life threw her.
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