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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Book Review: The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle: A Memoir, by Jeanette Walls

The Glass Castle was our most recent book club read, and I have to say that it generated more discussion over the actual book than perhaps has ever happened in book club before. (It's true... some might consider our "book club" simple cover for "mom's night out.")

I, for one, was absolutely awed by the story. On the surface, it seems to be a simple tragedy, but there were uplifting elements that just kept popping out at me. It's the story of a poor family, homeless at times and without running water or electricity most of the time. You might say it's about abusive or neglectful parents, but while you are questioning the choices these people are making (and the effect it has on their four young children), there are also moments that are absolutely... breathtaking... and not necessarily in a horrible sort of way.

There is this passage, for instance, where the father takes each kid out individually and gives them the gift of a star for Christmas. His words, his actions are so lovely -- poetic really -- they just make you want to weep.

It was interesting to listen to the different elements of the story that some of our members related to, and I don't think you have to come from an abusive home to find something to relate to here. Whatever was going on in these people's lives, much of it was at least somewhat common to the human experience. Most of us live within "normal" boundaries, and this family was maybe living on the extreme outer fringes, but the author was able to tell the story objectively enough that I think many of us were able to relate in some fashion.

I think one thing that struck most of the book club members most is the fact that these kids not only survived what their parents put them through, at least three of the four ended up far bettering their position in the world.

Jobs. Homes. Income.

I think somehow, there is a lesson in this book about the scars we all carry from childhood. They may be big or small, but in the end it is the way we choose to get past them that counts.

This book was not necessarily a pick-me-upper, but is definitely worth the time to read. I enjoyed it. Immensely

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