Thursday, October 27, 2005

Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle

It was this past spring when I first read about The Glass Castle in a magazine. I remembered Jeannette Walls from the gossip program on the E! channel, remember the show- with Michael Musto and his fluttering hands and A.J. Benza with his tough guy exterior? I was familiar with her name but knew nothing about her life story.

I got a hold of the book, beginning it late one summer night. From page one, her vivid descriptions pulled me into her life. It was obvious where all the good reviews stemmed. This book was not simply good- it was phenomenal. The story as fiction would have been amazing, but since this is a memoir it is even more incredible. That someone could have lived as Jeannette did and not only survive, but flourish in her adult life is worthy of all awards and accolades.

As the book came to the end, I put off reading the final chapter. Why? Because I wanted the book to go on and on. The writing is so rich, you cannot help but feel you are there with the Jeannette. When I closed the book for good, I told everyone about The Glass Castle. I was a one woman campaign for people to read the memoir. And each person who read it said the same thing, "AMAZING." Amazing writing, amazing story. If you read only one book this month or this year, make it The Glass Castle.

I am lucky to have the opportunity to do an interview with Jeannette who is kind and smart and wonderful. Sometimes you read a book that holds a special place in your heart for a long time, this is one of those books. Read our interview, then rush out and buy the book. Feel free to email me with your thoughts on it.

What motivates you every day?

I’m going to scare myself and quote my mother, but life is an adventure.
I think people are only capable of giving what they know.

What kind of upbringing did your parents have? We get a bit of your grandmother in the book. Not pleasant.

That’s so incredibly well said. I think what’s stunning about my father is not that he was a shiftless drunk – but rather that he had as much good in him as he did, given where he came from. He was drinking heavily by the time that he was 15 and as best I can tell, got no real love or support from home. The only person who really gave him any faith in himself while he was growing up was an English teacher, the one I was named after.

My mother’s upbringing was actually rather upper middle class, but I think she suffered from too much discipline and spent the rest of her life seeking out freedom and adventure.

At what age did you finally get braces? I admired how you tried to fix your own teeth.

When I was 24. I had graduated from college and got my first well-paying full time job, the FIRST thing I did with the first paycheck was get real, store-bought braces. They cost me $3,600 (I paid in installments) and it was the best money I ever spent. I no longer felt the need to cover my mouth when I smiled.

Did you ever think about running away? Doing a “skidaddle” of your own?

I think I did, actually. I didn’t run away, but I walked away very, very quickly.

When the truant officer came to the door, you turned him away. Was this because you were afraid to be separated from your siblings?

YES. Absolutely.

What was your first item of luxury when you made it to New York?

I will always consider a hot bath to be one of the world’s greatest luxuries. People who’ve never lived without running water cannot understand how miraculous it is to simply turn on a couple of faucets and be able to step into a tub of warm water. That, and a flush toilet. Push the handle, WHOOSH! It’s just gone.

When you arrived in New York, did you feel a sense of relief? Guilt?

YES! Both. Constantly. I think that sometimes I still have bouts of survivor’s guilt.

Do you plan on writing a sequel to the book? I’d love to hear about your early life in New York and working to become who and what you are today.

I’m kicking around a few ideas, but I’m sort of cool on the idea of a sequel about making it in New York. (Although a friend of mine who’s urging me to do it has a great title: “Mountain Goat Does Manhattan.”) Seriously, the country gal makes good with luck and pluck just doesn’t carry much emotional wallop.

I read you were afraid to tell your upper -class Park Avenue dwelling acquaintances about your childhood and where you came from. When the book came out, how did your friends react and did you lose any friendships over it? Did anyone look at you differently?

I couldn’t have been more wrong about how most people would respond. I hugely underestimated peoples’ capacity for compassion. I’ve also been stunned by the number of people who’ve come forward and told me that, while the details of my life may have been more extreme, they had a lot in common with me. I didn’t lose any friends, and I’ve become a lot closer to that I know of. Some Park Avenue types are probably mortified, but to hell with ‘em.

Growing up, what happened when you got sick? Did you go to the doctor? Your basic needs were not met. How did you avoid getting sick when you were living in such poverty?

When we got sick we were pretty much ignored until we got better. Being sick was considered being weak and useless. Mom thought if kids were pampered when they were sick it would encourage hypochondria. Maybe she was right. For the most part we were very healthy kids, despite our rather sparse diet. And as an adult, I almost never get sick.

Because the book is personal, how do you feel when you read a negative comment or review? Especially comments regarding your parents.

That’s a very perceptive question. I purposely didn’t pass judgment on my parents in the book; I wanted to leave it up to the readers, but I’m sometimes shocked by how hard people come down on Mom and Dad. I understand it, of course, but it’s a little startling – and very interesting. Then there was someone who wrote an online review and said that he just didn’t believe that someone who was an alcoholic like my father could also be articulate and compassionate. I thought, Jeez, honey, you need to get out a little more, maybe do some volunteer work or something.

What was your goal in writing the memoir? Was it cathartic? Did it help you understand your parents? Did you ever feel a need to understand them?

It was HUGELY cathartic. And, yes, it helped me understand my parents, but that’s not why I wrote it. I wrote it for a lot of reasons, partly because I knew I had to -- as Mom challenged me -- “Tell the truth.” I’d tried a couple of times when I was younger; I wrote a couple of hundred pages at a time on several occasions, then threw it all out. My husband was really instrumental in my finally sitting down to write it. He practically duct taped me to the desk and said, “You are writing this.”

The fascinating thing has been that even though I obviously knew all the things I wrote, sometimes you don’t know what you know, but when you force yourself to examine it and really, really be honest with yourself, you can put together the pieces of the puzzle that were all jumbled in your head. I think that’s what happened in my case.

How were you able to put the past behind you as you walked the Red Carpet and lived a glamorous life? Was it always in the back of your mind - thoughts of your childhood?

That’s one of the things I loved the most about the job! It was always such a hoot thinking, I know I’m just a scrawny girl who grew up without indoor plumbing, and here I am wearing my fancy designer clothes asking Nicole Kidman questions. Life is so strange.

Would you be the person you are today if you grew up in a house with hot water and a warm bed? Your parents heaped upon you lots of intelligence, creativity and I got a sense that you always felt loved.

That’s the whole nature/nurture question, and I’m afraid I’m not smart enough to answer it definitively. I used to think I’d have more confidence and a healthier sense of entitlement if I’d grown up with regular meals and all that, but now I’m not so sure. A very smart sociologist I spoke with said that every successful person he’s studied had to overcome some huge obstacle in his or her life, and it’s learning to navigate those rough patches that teaches you how to deal with

But yes, I actually think that in many ways I was incredibly lucky because I did feel loved and my parents both put a huge emphasis on education and self esteem. In that way, I was much more fortunate than many of the people I met while I was living on Park Avenue.

Should your family have been on welfare? Did you know how bad you had it? Did you ever complain?

At one time I urged my mother to go on welfare, and she refused. At the time I thought she was wrong, that we would have had it much better if we could have food stamps or something, but now I’m not so sure. Mom said she didn’t want us to think of ourselves as charity cases, and there’s something to be said for that. That being said, if I had four hungry kids with nothing to eat and no way of getting any money, I’d go on welfare in a heartbeat.

I had a pretty good idea how bad we had it, but no, I didn’t complain. Not much, anyway. It didn’t get me anywhere.

Did you read Angela’s Ashes, another wonderful book about growing up in extreme poverty? I can’t help but draw comparisons between you and Frank McCourt. What are your thoughts, did you read it and see similarities?

I loved Angela’s Ashes. I think it would be pretty arrogant for me to compare my book to it, but if you want to, that’s just dandy by me.

How is your relationship with your siblings today? How do they feel about The Glass Castle? Do any of them live like your mother?

I’m very close to my brother. He loves the book and was very supportive every step of the way. I showed him parts as I finished them because he has a steel trap memory and I wanted to make sure I remembered things correctly. It’s interesting, because we remembered the same events, but had different takes on them. For example, I think of the cheetah as being a gorgeous, powerful beast with rippling muscles. Brian said, “As I remember, that was as a sort mangy creature.” I ran that by Mom and she said, “It was both, but it wasn’t inside a cage. It was just walking around the zoo.” People remember the same things differently, and if Brian or my sisters had written the book, it would be entirely different.

Maureen and I lost touch when she moved to California, but after the book came out, we got together again. I’m very happy about that.

Lori and I are pretty close, but she sort of didn’t want me to write the book, although she would never have asked me not to do it. At first, she didn’t want to read it, but Mom urged her to. So she did and she said she found it sort of painful to relive some of those episodes, but she really liked it.

Would your father have ever been capable of building the glass castle?

As far as I’m concerned, he did build it. It wasn’t a physical structure, but rather a dream: the hope of a better life.

Moving on to lighter subjects- What are the best and worst parts of attending a Red Carpet function?

I love trying to get a celeb who won’t talk to any other reporter. There are all sorts of tricks – one interviewer told me she wears long chartreuse gloves. I haven’t tried that one, but you have to be creative. If, for example, some star has a child who’s trying to get into the movies, shout out a question about the kid’s career. That one always works for me.

The worst part is that you know you can only use short, simple sound bites, so sometimes a celeb gives you a long, thoughtful response to a question, and you think, “Dang, that was smart. Too bad I can’t use it.” And you end up going with comments like “I love being part of Hollywood’s most exciting night of the year!”

Did you enjoy being on Oprah? I think The Glass Castle should have been an Oprah pick, I'm quite upset with Miss Oprah. Instead you are going to have to settle for a Cindy’s Must Read. I’ve encouraged everyone I know to read this book.

I loved being on Oprah. I think she’s a magnificent woman who does so much good with her fame and power. The only greater honor than being an Oprah’s pick is being a Cindy’s Must Read!

Casting the movie, who would play you? And your parents? Who could attempt to do them justice with a portrayal? I hear there is talk of bringing The Glass Castle to the big screen...

It’s been optioned by Plan B, Brad Pitt’s production company, and I’m just thrilled about it, but nothing is ever certain in Hollywood, so I’m not counting on anything. I simply cannot cast myself. Can’t do it! Just thinking about it is too weird.

I actually believe that my mother and father have the more interesting, challenging parts. The Hollywood Reporter said the roles are “catnip for serious actors looking to play charismatic scoundrels.” I thought that was just about perfect. There are so many great actresses I could see playing my mother: Susan Sarandon, Emma Thompson, Kate Nelligan, Meryl Streep, etc. (I’m well aware that those are really pie in the sky choices, but we’re just having fun here.)

Honestly, I think that any really good actress who spent any time with my mother (Mom would do it, of course) would “get” her. Dad’s a little tougher to cast, but anyone who can capture his irresistible ne’er do well quality, his combination of charm and rage, could really take the role and run with it.

Have you considered writing a work of fiction?

I’m terrible at making up things. At one point, I tried to fictionalize The Glass Castle and I couldn’t even make up fake names for the characters. I spent all day trying to decide what to call the members of my family. I settled on Doug for my brother Brian because Douglas is his middle name, but every time I wrote “Doug” it irritated me because that’s not his name, dang it, and it felt all wrong.

What is the best compliment someone has given you?

I have been so stunned and overwhelmed and blown away by some reactions to the book that honestly, I don’t know where to start. But the other day, someone told me that after she read the book, she rethought her whole relationship with her father and they had a long talk and now she sees him differently and now, for the first time, they really get along. I thought, “Wow, it doesn’t get much better than that.” Then someone else told me she gave the book to a friend who had her daughter, a who is a very popular cheerleader reader in high school, read it and the daughter said she’s going to start treating the nerdy, outcast girls in her school differently. I thought, “Well, heck. Now I can die a happy woman.”

Where will you be in ten years from now? What is your legacy?

I have no idea! Ten years ago, if you had told me where I’d be now, I’d tell you that you’ve lost your mind!

Jeannette writes The Scoop column for You can order The Glass Castle by clicking here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...
Wow. This is the first on your book reviews that I have ever read and I am very happy I did. Sometimes things can get a little vapid here and this was nice to read. I am taking the book with me on my Christmas cruise!!
Thanks @ 6:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Sorry Distressed: I know a lot more about Jeannette Walls than you do. She's a nice woman but lies bother me, and I'm now convinced that parts of The Glass Castle are The Glass Fable.

But of course, Distressed also thinks that the ACLU is a commie pinko organization rather than understanding the truth, which is that the ACLU is the last thing that stands between us and a dictatorship.

Distressed, get a new calling; you are NOT a journalist so stick to making things up about celebs.
And... Hmmmm... why won't Jeannette talk about her early days in New York? Hmmmmmm....

But again she was very nice when I knew her and I wish her the best. Just don't lie, either of you, I HATE liars, but fabulists do write the best books and book reviews, eh? @ 7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
It's funny, because I just finished reading this book last weekend. By far the best book I've read in a long time! I'd go through long periods in it, just enjoying the characters and waiting to see what would happen to them next. I had to shake myself every now and again and remind myself that these were real people and these poor kids actually lived through that hardship.

I admire the author so much for making it through that and really pushing herself to make a success of life.

Thanks so much for this wonderful book! (Loved the interview too) @ 7:41 PM  
Anonymous claudine said...
i love jeanette walls. i read the book and i made a point to let her know how much her book meant to me, on so many levels. she's kind, gracious and down to earth. i love, love, love her. @ 9:44 AM  
Blogger Distressed Jeans said...
She is kind and wonderful, I agree! I hope this is made into a film, it has potential to be fabulous. @ 12:07 PM  
Anonymous gak said...
I devoured the book in a day and a half... My book club read it too and we all agreed it's a keeper. Doesn't get much better than that!

Thanks for your interview, DJ. @ 12:08 PM  
Anonymous Spyder said...

Loved your interview. I read a more detailed interview about the author in Vanity Fair (I think that was the magazine) a few years ago and it was so interesting. I'm going to have to buy this book now. Jeez- what's up with that anonymous writer? Sounds like someone has a chip on their shoulder.

Heather @ 2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
The author is very fortunate to have felt loved and been nutured during all of this. Many of us have gone through the same extreme poverty as children with no nurturing, love, or support. I kinda don't feel bad for her. Isn't that sad? @ 10:29 AM  
Anonymous dee said...
Jeanette Walls has been my hero since I read an article about this book nearly a year ago. I read Glass Castles during one very long weekend and the only thing that kept me from starting over was wanting everyone I know to read it too. Wow Jeanette!!! I had a life similar to Jeanette's but with more horror and a number of not so nice step-fathers. I can relate to many of the scenes in the book if you add alcohol and pedophiles. Anyway, It really made an impression on me. I'm not rich and don't live in Manhattan (40 miles east) but I had a long climb up to a very comfortable life- through a number of really awful places and the weathers really fine up here. Bless to you for giving her a voice in your column and to her for writing such a wonderful book. I had no idea how to contact her so I hope you will let her know how much it meant to me. Your funny to read and I really enjoy your biting sense of humor. Don't let the a**holes get you down...Dee @ 2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Jeanette, don't mind the neg. comments--like I use to tell Cindy, they're just jealous of your success. Great book, couldn't put it down, I recommend it to everyone!
I can't wait to see it made into a movie. As far as casting your dad, Tome Sismore (sp?) would be PERFECT. I just saw him in "Flyboys" and he's a one of a kind actor....he'd be great for this part!
m @ 3:06 PM  
Anonymous Steve Schlissel said...
The book is planting itself firmly into my heart. No self-pity or self-righteousness is what sets it apart from every other like-story I've read. And the writing-- there are splendid sentences in this book. The whole of it is brilliant. @ 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Reading your book brought back so many childhood memories of my own life.

My father was a drinker. My mother on the other hand was everything to each of us (5). We were not rich and had struggles. All but one of us did something with our lives.

I have already passed your book onto my sister. She too could not put it down and never wanted it to end. The next step is to get my three brothers to read it. So many of your mentionings were my own memories. While my sister and I are not bitter, my brothers carry the burden of our childhood. I feel your book will help them.

I was the one who took care of my father when he was ill and passing. By then he was mellow and looking for recognition from his children. I was able to bring him back his dignity prior to his death. I also gained a better understanding of him for myself. I will always cherrish your book and lend it out if the need should arise. Thank you, and I hope to read more of your writings. You have a wonderful talent, don't let it go. I would like to share with you why I want you to write. Therefore, I will give you my outlet. My poetry.

Today and Tomorrow
A dream, a wish, a laugh, a cry, does it really matter and why? Yes, because we are human, we still laugh as well as cry. What would we do without all these feelings? "we would hold them in and die". Yes, it really matters and do you know why? "BECAUSE WE ARE ALIVE" by ann z lewis

Sharing your story made me feel alive. It renewed my faith of outcomes. It also made me understand why I was able to be there for my father. @ 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Tonight I finished reading "The Glass Castle." What a book! My daughter gave it to me saying, "I was spellbound from the first page." Jeannette Walls is a gifted writer. This book makes me want to seek out everything she has written and will ever write.

If Jeannette can succeed after being raised in the manner she was raised, there is no excuse for failure from anyone in this country of opportunity. I admire her for her sense of love and forgiveness and for her lack of bitterness. I will encourage everyone to read this book. @ 12:12 AM  
Anonymous Marlee Palmer said...
words cannot even describe my feelings about this memoir.. i finished it less than 15 minutes ago, and immediately proceeded to attempt to find Jeannette's email adress. this book inspired me beyond belief, and caused me to pursue my own novel. although i am only 16 years old, i believe that i have the ability to begin a work of literature that i dream could someday compare to The Glass Castle. Jeannette, Thank you for your increadably shocking and breath-taking book. It is one of my all time favorites.
You gave me faith in myself and in my literary compacity.
Thank You.
Marlee Palmer
Telluride, Colorado @ 1:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Amazing!!! I absolutely loved this book. My book club has noted this book to be best book we have all read in a long time. The book was written with such warmth and candor about the Wells family. I felt happy, sad, hopeful, disgusted, sorrowful, and even shed a tear. I wanted to read more and more about this amazing Family. As odd as it was, as difficult as it was, the children in this family learned how to cope, love, dream, forgive, understand, and persevere. Many of these acts most people never learn, you are all blessed to understand this.

Jeannette, I am sure more of your friends on Park Avenue can relate to your background than they will let on.

As for the ACLU and embelishments - both of these have a lot in common! I thank my founding fathers who made this a free country way before the ACLU was ever created. The constitution stands between us and a dictatorship NOT the ACLU!!!! @ 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Great Book, I did not want it to end....what courage all your family had....thank God you all turned out like you go Girl !!!!!! @ 12:07 AM  
Anonymous Susan Harrier said...
I lived that life. I related in so many ways. My father an alcoholic; my mother self-absorbed; no plumbing, outhouses, no heat; and most times not electric. It wasn't the best life, but it is what I have to work with today and I am proud of who I have become. Thank you for telling your story for all of us. @ 4:46 PM  
Anonymous j wolf said...
I enjoyed this memoir so very much. I couldn't read it fast enough, and yet didn't want it to end. Let's all be on the lookout for children who might be in a similar situation, and do what we can to help them. This is a heartbreaking story, yet is also a very affirmative story on the power of love and forgiveness. @ 12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
it is unbelievable to me that a brillant mind is crushed by a body addictted to liquor. Jeanette Walls had an unthinkable childhood. She and her siblings should be their own heros. @ 11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
This is one of the best books I've ever read' not just the story but also the way it is written.
An amazing book and I've been telling everyone that they must read it. I didn't want it to end.

Thanks Jeannette
Marilyn P. @ 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Erin said...
Amazing story! I'm curious to know what Maureen is doing with her life now. @ 9:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Loved the book. The parents definitely made be very angry at times but I was extremely impressed by the kids: their strength, intelligence and support for one and other. I very much identified with Ginette's situation and to this day I love the wonderful luxury of taking a hot bath. @ 1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
What a great book!! I couldn't put it down. What courage it must have taken you to write this book. @ 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
By the end of the book I was trembling, crying and rooting for Jeannette and her siblings. Like many of her readers I came from a family of alcoholics--mother, father, stepmother. I only intermittently experienced poverty, though not nearly to the extreme the Walls children did. I remember seeing the leaves in the trees for the first time too!! And having the same sweaty palms when I moved to New York! I simply loved this book. It moved me deeply and will stay with me for a long time and when I have forgotten parts of it I know I will pick it up and read it again!! Truly inspirational. Thank you Jeannette Walls. @ 9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Not to be nit-picky, but shouldn't the author (and her editor and publisher) know that Barnard is not technially an Ivy League college?? @ 3:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I am surprised at how many people grew up the way you did. My story is similar, but I married into a family that would not pick your book up, because they don't want to hear someone else' sad life. They never had to worry about poverty or poor parenting. I, like others, could not put your book down. Jeannette, don't you think it's weird what we considered normal back then? Now I look back and wonder how we survived. Best wishes. Wanda @ 7:46 PM  
Anonymous Rhonda said...
Riveting read! I saw myself (to a degree) in Jeannette's life - bolting from where I grew up, becoming successful, and yet feeling quilty about where I had come from and the people I left behind. My personal take on this is the "damage factor" from growing up becomes the "resilience factor" in those of us who emerge. What ever happened to the property in Texas, I wonder? @ 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Avid reader in Upstate NY said...
I didn't want the book to end! Instead of feeling sorry for your childhood, I am jealous! Even though my childhood was wonderful, you are the inspiration and spirit. What a wonderful story of love and survival. God Bless you and your family. I shall pass this book on to my book group,knowing they too will love every page.
Avid reader in Upstate NY @ 10:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I just finished "The Glass Castle'" and I am still feeling under its spell, created by the authors style and skill in telling this heart-rending tale in such a non- judgemental way. There is so little self pity. so much family loyalty and such strong survival-skills that it was fascinating to read and empathize with this stunning memoir. I suppose that hard-ship in this case with the intelligence and love of a brilliant parent must help create strong character. Thank you, Jeannete Walls for sharing this story with us in your very talented and absorbing manner. @ 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Tricia said...
I read this book in two days and LOVED it! I then went and bought two more copies to pass around to share with loved ones. Most have relayed that "It's the best book I've read in a long time." What I REALLY would like is a sort of "Part 2." I wonder is she is considering it?????? @ 7:06 PM  
Anonymous Cait said...
I met Jeanette Walls yesterday. She is a very insightful,articulate and pleasant woman. She is living proof that even with insane/addict parents and poverty, is something any young person can overcome and make a much better life for themselves. I had her write "Persevere" in my book. It meant a lot to me. @ 1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
My best friend read this book and told me about how great it was. I have just finished it and to tell you the truth, I could not even discuss it with anyone, I needed to process it. I have been very emotional since reading it. But, a good emotional feeling, bordering on tears of sadness, and just getting to know about Jeannette and her siblings, wanting to be there for them to go back to help them somehow. Jusst thinking about it makes me sad. Jeanette's parents were her parents and she never saw herself as a victim. She pursued her life. And what a wonderful person she turned out to be, compassionate, grateful, great writer, striving to be the best that she can be. My own Father was also addicted to alcohol, and in reading the book, I see his good qualities, that he did the best that he could with what he had. The only thing that Jeanette said that she would want to change growing up, is the fact that her Dad did not drink. Wow, it just doesn't get better than that! JKK @ 2:25 PM  
Blogger Michelle Vandepol said...
amazing book. worth reading over and over to examine how we get sucked into the story so well and so fast. i hope she abandons her job as gossip columnist (which seems sort of vapid and not worth her talents as writer) and devotes herself to churning out lots of books for us to devour. @ 3:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I read this book in one day, I had to, could not put it down...One thing that confused me about this book is how she came out of it feeling how much her parents loved her??? If her mother was ever seen by a psychiatrist she would of definately been diagnosed with manic/depression and had no business raising children. She exhibited nothing but self centeredness and mental illness. She never took care of her children, and actually had sympathy for the rat that almost attacked the youngest...Then to find out that she had a piece of land in Texas worth $1million, she let her children go hungry and live in squalor??? The father was clearly an alcoholic and brilliant, he had his demons, one which he was sexually abused by his mother. He reminded me of Hemingway without the actual works behind the dreams...At one point he pimped his own daughter out to a drunk guy in a bar and knew that she could handle herself because of all that he taught her...Just because you lay on the desert floor with your children and let them pick out a star, does not mean that you love them...Both of her parents suffered from severe mental illness and how nobody ever got the "big net" over their heads is beyond me... @ 9:33 PM  
Anonymous elayne said...
Any words of advice on how I can entice my three teenagers to read The Glass Castle? I loved the way it was written, no moralizing or lecturing. @ 1:36 PM  
Anonymous cherry said...
Jeannette I was wondering what year it was that you settled down in Phoenix. I also went to Emerson grade school. I graduated from Emerson in 1966. I thought one of your siblings could have been a class mate of mine or my sister. Whas Mr Pyle the principal of the school when you went there? @ 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
the book brought me some comfort to know that I am not alone..Their are other people that grew up in simular families..The fact that nobody wants to have parents that are the way they are but still LOVE them dearly, makes me feel not so alone.I just finished the book about 10 min. ago and had to look J.Walls up on the web..She is my hero, strong with no bad feeling towards her parents...I loved this book . @ 11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Reading your book revolted lots of bad feelings inside of me about my own parents rejecting my life, therefore neglecting me to painful extremes since before I was born. It has moved everything inside of me. It hurts so much I have had nightmares since and during I was reading it. I admired the way Jeannette was able to overcome and endure such life which she had no option but to live it like it while she knew she would bring it to an end eventually. Good for her who was the author of even her older sister Lori to escape from all that chaos. I will not agree however that her loyal feelings and what is called capacity for love, are not stained deep inside with mixed feelings of some resentfulness to her parents cruel irresponsibility and carelessness. I must agree though, that both Dad and Mom Walls had the capacity, imagination and intellectual arguments to explain even the worst things in a manner that brought dignity and hope to their lives. Here we have the exception to the saying we cannot but give what we receive! Material poverty does not always match spiritual poverty. While I have a successful life in many ways, emotionally speaking I have also overcome a lot but not enough to attain all the success I could have had if during my infancy and childhood there would have been more love. I wonder how Mrs. Taylor feels about it herself very deep inside and if she has undergone psychological treatment before or now. Thanks for sharing. You make me feel good for being an inspirational model to follow. I liked the interview very much. @ 2:54 PM  
Blogger ladyslipper said...
I loved the Glass Castle. The courage it took for Jeannette Walls to write her memoir impresses me. I grew up in a family also very different from the norm. Instead of extreme proverty, my mom was mentally ill. As a child, I knew something wasn't right, and I also realized I must hide her problem from others. I knew no one would believe my life at home. In spite of having to walk on egg shells every day of my life at home, I felt her love for me. I am happy to say that my mother's condition was noticed in a lengthy hospital stay for a medical problem. She is now on a medication that allows her to feel joy instead of paranoid anger. She is in her 70's. @ 9:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
i just finished the book and had the same feeling as others, i did not want it to end! it is truly amazing how this family persevered and came through as they did. there are so many of us (myself included) who have so much to be grateful for and take such simple things for granted. this book was very eye opening for me and i want all of my friends and family to read it! Please write another book! @ 3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
i'm 13 years old and a big reader. my mom is a librarian and she suggested this book to me. i started reading yesterday and im 3/4 of the way done, and i love it. it's pretty inspiring how the author and her siblings grew up and managed to take care of themselves. i loved the charm and enthusiasm the authors parents put into the book, and this is the first memoir ive ever read without getting bored. it's such a good book, i still havent put it down xD @ 2:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I haven't read the book yet, but from the reviews I can guess what it is like. My family is from the same area and even though we always had a roof over our head and my parents took the get a job logical route, I can already tell there are similarities between her childhood and mine. In fact, I discovered her story when researching which West Virginia mountain town to move back to. I was just in Welch over the weekend visiting family or kinfolk as some call it. My dad always had a job, but he was an alcoholic and my mom kept us together. They were married 43 years before he passed away last year of lung cancer. I love my dad more than words could say, but I struggle with so many bad childhood memories like sitting in a car all night long in a church parking lot because dad was on a drinking binge and mom was protecting us. But, the good memories like dad teaching us the Bible and playing his guitar and how smart he was. Those things are what I really remember. I can't wait to read the book. Because we were poor and sometimes we had to pour a bucket of water down the commode (toilet) to get it to flush, but we had love and I think once I read the book, I'll see a lot of similarities. Unconditional love, modeled after The Father. That's what I remember. @ 2:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I havent yet finished the book. In just starting a knew chapter. This book is one I just cant keep my hands off. It is almost disturbing at times, but then I have fell in love with you, your sisters and your brother. As if I, at some points, wanted to jump in and rescue all of you.
Hvae you ever thought to right a book about your early life in new york i think that would be great.
Lauren, brantford Ontario @ 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I am recommending this amazing book to my women's Sunday School class at our community's Episcopal Church. My sister received a copy for her birthday earlier this month, I gave a copy to my baby brother, and my nieces and sister-in-law will receive a copy for Christmas this year! This book has forced me to deal with the troubled times of my own childhood, and thankfully, like Jeannette, I left home, finding success and love...Lori P. Howard @ 7:02 AM  
Anonymous Marla said...
WOW! WOW! WOW! My mom handed me the book on the way out the door from visiting her one day. I devoured it in three days, turned around and started reading it again. I ABSOLUTELY love the unbelievable writing craft Jeannette exhibits - the in-the-moment details that put you right there, and her willingness to be honest about very embarrassing things in her life. My great dream is to one day meet her and talk to her! I, too, like to write and am working on someone else's life story. And Cindy, you asked some of the questions I was burning to know!!!
Marla, @ 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Marla said...
WOW! WOW! WOW! My mom handed me the book on the way out the door while visiting her one day. I devoured it in three days, turned around and started reading it again. I ABSOLUTELY love the unbelievable writing craft Jeannette exhibits - the in-the-moment details that put you right there, and her willingness to be honest about very embarrassing things in her life. My great dream is to one day meet her and talk to her! I, too, like to write and am working on someone else's life story. And Cindy, you asked some of the questions I was burning to know!!! Marla, @ 7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Enjoyed this book so much I wanted to see if Jeannette had written other things, so found your interview. Enjoyed it.

Thank goodness Jeannette started the book the way she did or I don't think I could have made it through all of "Welch".

I have selected it for our next book club meeting. I'll let you know what the others say.

Anonymous probably does not totally understand the definition of "memoir" - your memory. Loved the way you told this story. Would love to know more about your Mom and her million dollar land in Texas. Didn't totally get her. I'm Catholic so understand the rules and I had a drinking father, and, my Mother chose himnd his lifestyle over me many times. As an adult looking back, I don't think she should have--its your Mom's ongoing lifestyle choices that are still a little bit hard to grasp. I hope Maureen finds a way to survive happily too. @ 2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Been dealing with depression in my life lately. Now after reading Ms. Walls book I am resolved to just "get on with it" life that is and stop thinking too much. If a sweet little girl can do that so can I! So thank you for the inspiration. Still I have questions 1) what happened to the Phoenix house? 2) what happened to the land? 3) Is Maureen working and ok? @ 11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
What a wonderful book! I taught school in a low income area and had many children in my class like Jeannette. This book made me think back and ask myself if I treated the poor, dirty, and needy children with respect. Hopefully I did.
Jeannette Walls, thank you for writing this memoir. It was a pleasure to read about your unique family. @ 3:41 PM  
Anonymous Debbie from WV said...
"THE GLASS CASTLE" is my all time favorite. I was so enthralled by the book that I couldn't lay it down. I have told everyone about this book. I have also e-mailed "OPRAH" to let her know how disappointing she is for not picking this book as one of her book club picks. I have tried to read her choices and can't get past the first page. This book had me on the first sentence. I'm waiting for a sequel to fill us in how the family is doing now.
Thanks so much for sharing your life with us!
Debbie from WV. @ 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Wonderful read! Brought back many childhood memories though mine was a bed of roses compared to hers. @ 11:21 PM  
Blogger Barbara Quartarone said...
My name is Barbara Quartarone from Lawrence, Mass...60 years old this week....almost 39 years ago at age 20 I gave birth to identical twin boys at Boston Ly-ing hospital hospital in Boston Mass.....I had a boyfriend since 17 years old....On my 20th birthday we had sex and the second time we had sex I was pregnant....He was from a very wealth Andover family and I was the daughter of an Italian fringe on the border mafia Father. Dad was very controlled by his controlling vicious Mother and after deciding that this was a no win situation for me..I entered Critten Home for Unwed Mothers in Boston...Very popular from 1950 to early 1970's...We were told it was a disgrace to the family....they will be better off with a married family...Until 4 week before deliver I had no idea I had twins.....It was dormitory style and there was a rumor that somebody was having twins...I had no idea it was me......
When they sent me to the hospital for an x-ray (that's what they did then) I was in shock.
On Dec 23, 1969 i gave birth to twin boys 5lbs 9 Oz and 1 boy 6 lbs 2 oz....They refused to tell me anything about the took 2 days to get to hold my boys because they said I had a fever of 100 degrees.... Women back then without husbands were BAD....I did get to spend 6 days with my boys before they promised they would be sent to foster home Together before they were adopted.....I did know that somebody was waiting for them.,...again another lie...a Jewish couple ...the only couple willing to take twins....
After 3 weeks I requested them to be with me when I signed the adoption papers....I arrived to find One kid there...crying his eyes out....i went to the counselor....Where is the other one ? Well!!!!! we couldn't find a foster family to take both of them....i flipped out.....Here comes the other one....both are crying there head age 21...I put both of them together and the crying stopped.... These boys are mirror image twins (very rare)...they needed to be together....They almost arrested me I was so upset....only to hear the counselor say "well if you signed the adoption papers they would be together"...How could I believe them after they had lied to me ?
I was a mess....with no family to Mafia Dad had no clue to what was going on because my family was divorced and my mother and maternal grandmother covered for me for many months...At Thankgiving just 3 weeks before giving birth My Mafia Dad called my Mother and threatened to send his "boys" to find me in California and bring me home...All the time I was in Brighton, Mass hold up in the dungeon.... I did eventually sign after 8 1/2 weeks and they did go to an older couple really waiting for children.

After 38 years and many ties my identical twin boys found me...I made it very easy for them...kept my maiden name...sent letter to every website...sent letter to adoption home...state of Mass. Just when they decided to try again Mass changed the laws..after 30 years they would release info on private adoptions. There is a whole story on how it happened. I truly gave up on God 38 years ago...I blamed him for losing my kids.....I felt he abandoned me when I really needed him...I spent 39 years making Money...success my main goal in life...
I found my kids...they look like me...they are like me....I love them......Unfortunately my husband of 20 year (who knew about them before we got married) instantly got upset and decided he wanted to have kids and divorce me). This is when I knew I needed something to come to me...I needed a mission in my life ...I needed to tell my story.....Everybody I tell breaks down in tears....they look at my kids....they give me hope and inspiration.....My money is gone...I'm not broke, but I'm not living the good OC lifestyle like before...But I believe that Pastor Ric says I have a mission.....I will tell my story...that is much more than I have given you here....I will be an inspiration to the other 1.5 million "good girls" that gave their children up for adoption in my generation without counseling....small groups...and support of their church and family...I will reach them somehow...and inspire....and make a difference.

Please give me hints and places to go to do that. I want Jeanette Walls to write my story @ 2:42 PM  
Anonymous seeing said...
Cindy--What a wonderfully written interview. Thank you! I spent all day today finishing the book I was a third into when I got up this a.m. It's a fantastic book...I felt all the emotions and couldn't put it down until I saw the outcome. Mostly wanted to shake her parents, having grown up in an alcoholic home myself. What I came away with wa ste realization that our parents were doing the best THEY knew how to do. I believe we choose our parents for whatever reasons in this lifetime. Mostly, what your interview left me with was great respect for her---I sensed an authenticity and humbleness that made me sure he story was true. (there were point where I thought this can't possibly be true). Thank you for providing that. Well done! @ 7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I drive for a living so I put "The Glass Castle" on my Ipod and finished it in two days. Growing up in WV, I had a completely different experience, but I could relate to Jeannette through my Vermont granddaughter. Her childhood has been horrible and I can't wait to give her this book for Christmas. She is now 14 and I know that this book will help her get through the next four years of her life. I have always told her that education was the key and through books she will go places she would never be able to go any other way. She loves to read and I can't wait to hear her review of this book. Thanks Jeannette for sharing your childhood with us...your book will stay with me for a long time. @ 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I just finished reading The Glass Castle and I am telling everyone about it. I purchased it for my son for Christmas and am so happy I did so. It really shows one the strength of the human spirit and how one survives in such difficult situations. It brought back some memories of my own childhood but for sure Jeannette and her siblings struggled much more than me. Her survival and success is inpirational and should remind us all to appreciate what we have. I enjoyed the book so much and will tell everyone I know to read it. It was amazing!! @ 2:15 AM  
Anonymous Diane said...
Jeannette's experiences made my challenging childhood look like the Sound of Music. I applaud these siblings for their strength, ingenuity and tenacity for survival. My concern is for the youngest sister Maureen. I sense there is still much pain and confusion. I hope she is well and finds her own happiness. Thank you for an amazing story told in a phenomenal way....... Diane @ 8:55 PM  
Blogger Bonnie said...
I dearly loved reading this book. The words just flew off of the page and the characters so real. I did not want to put it down and I could not wait until I picked it up again. I have been telling everyone I know to read it. @ 11:52 AM  
Anonymous tino said...
This is an incredible story which leaves the reader with a sense of wonder, ambivalence and awe. Now, I am waiting for someone to write a novel about their non-alcoholic, working parents who have respectable jobs, don't live extravagantly but still run out of money before the next paycheck. Or is that most of middle class America? @ 9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I was told that I must read this book ,Glass Castle And it was so hard to put down. As a 62 year old man it moved me so much. In fact after reading page 281 I could not read any further I just sat and cried before I could finsh the book. But I must state it wse not out of pity but of all the hurts in there lives. And I so happy she did find her Glass Castle. @ 9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
This was one of the best books I've read. Thank goodness I've finished it now because I've not been able to put it down since reading the first paragraph. What a gripper! I've told everyone I know to read it. My only disappointment is that the book was not several hundred pages longer. Jeannette Walls - what a beautiful person, inside and out. @ 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I recently finished reading this book, and may I say, at the end of the book I was disappointed. Why? Because it never ended. I was hoping that it would go forever. That's how good it was. When I told people about what happened to her, they thought it was fiction. Her remarkable way of telling a story, a real story, can touch a person. I felt the end of the story was a little rushed, but that's probably because there was nothing left to say. Nothing of interest or out of the ordinary. I only have one point of criticism, because every book, person, and movie have a glitch; she never got too in depth with Maureen. Maureen never had an established personality. I would recomend this book to everyone and anyone. @ 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Just finished reading this book with my book club! It was truly amazing. I found that at times I was living as part of the book.I was Never one to worry about wasting food etc.. I found myself telling my kids not to waste etc..
One point that continues to stick out in my mind about the book. Although many of the memories were very difficult. They had an opportunity at times to do things that people will never get to do because of all that we do have. They were able to be together, bond, sing, tell stories, hike, lay out under the stars etc..
This was a fabulous book. I was only sad when it was finished because I wanted to hear more about their new lives. Can't wait for the movie. @ 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I read this book last year, and then recommended it to my book club--we meet tonight. I'm hoping everyone loves it as much as I did. I've yet to find a book so readable, so memorable and so heartbreaking at the same time. I loved the interviewer's question about the ability of the Walls kids to rise above their poverty and neglect and make good lives for themselves--it challenges the theory that if you have a tough childhood, that's it--the rest of your life is going to be ruined. I don't know much about Jeannette personally, so that's why I enjoyed the interview, to find out more about her as a person. I too think she's an amazing writer, and should give us another book. And if they don't screw it up, her book would make an awesome movie. I was also moved by all the emails from people who had suffered through bad childhoods and the hope she gave them. I was lucky--my parents were eccentric, but no drinking and no neglect. You realize how lucky we are to take so many things for granted.

And who is that strange person who said Jeannette was lying? If she has something to say, use your name. @ 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I read Glass Castles three weeks ago, and since then the memoir has haunted me like few other stories have. It may be because I, too, had a fractured childhood. We weren’t homeless, or hungry, or sleeping in cardboard boxes. My brother and I always had enough to eat, clean, warm beds to sleep in, clothing, though sometimes patched and faded, and parents who loved us and worked hard to provide for us. Although our childhood wasn’t nearly as disadvantaged as Jeannette and her siblings, I now believe our father had pstd from WWII, and so was sometimes cruel, especially to my brother. We moved around a lot, living for several years in a cramped 19-foot trailer while my father followed construction jobs around Oregon – I went to 13 different schools before I graduated from high school. And my parents divorced when I was 12. My father, whom I adored, virtually abandoned us physically, emotionally and financially. At that time, we were very poor, but my Grandparents, who were nothing like the senior Walls, provided a loving, generous safety net.

So because I know what it feels like to be heartbroken as a child, I could identify with the Walls children. Somehow, although they had it worse, their parents gave them something that allowed them to become amazing adults (except Maureen, who is still a work in progress, as are we all).

I view this book as an American Angela’s Ashes. The story of children, starved, neglected, and deprived of the most basic of human needs, nevertheless, rising above it all to not only become productive adults, but to succeed wildly beyond the ordinary.

Every child should read this story, especially those who feel they are entitled to the latest MP-3 or designer purse, but who have never been given their own star for Christmas. @ 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I loved this book! I could not put it down! I lived in West Virginia........almost the same situation only not as bad.
I believe every word Jeannette Walls wrote....(see that some do not believe her)............
I hope she will write another book. If I thought I had the ability, I would write one about my life in a coal camp in West Virginia...
Is there a way to email Jeannette? I missed her when she spoke at the University of Charleston here in West virginia. @ 4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
My friend recommeded I read the The Glass Castle on a short vacation. I didn't put it down from the first moment. Even though I have a completely different life situation, I related to Mom is a profound way. Something exciting and romantic about living on the edge. The only thing that keeps me grounded is the responsibilty I feel to my family. I wish Mom could have had aliitle more of that. Jeannette was lucky. Too many become lost victims unable to find the strength / smarts and simply succumb to the dread. Excellent story. Heartwretching and uplifting at the sametime. Five stars! @ 8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I just finished the book this morning. I loved it!! There were times when I was so mad at your parents and then times when I admired them. I think they taught such valuable lessons and loved so deeply. Then, I would be so upset like the time your Dad broke the "ox".....that really got me. My stomach was in a knot. I am really hoping for another story. I want to know more. I want to know how everyone is today. My kids are only 5,8 and 10 and they heard bits and pieces as I read. I really want each one of them to read it when they are older. Please write another one! @ 9:20 AM  
Anonymous ann kothera said...
I loved your book Glass Castle. I purchased the bookversion on cd's and loved more so. i recommend your book to many. I can't wait to see it if in deed it turns into a movie. Just goes to show no matter how you are raised one can make a differnce in their lifstyle.
Anna @ 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Lucy said...
Me encanto el libro, una historia que te atrapa y hace que no puedas dejarlo de leer. Espero que lo traduscan!. Tuve la oportunidad de ver a Jeanette Walls y fue muy significativo escuchar de palabras de la escritora su experiencia al escribir su propia historia. @ 11:22 PM  
Blogger bianca from Brazil said...
This comment has been removed by the author. @ 1:18 PM  
Blogger bianca from Brazil said...
I loved your book !! And I want to read it again. @ 1:24 PM  
Blogger Green tea said...
We just discussed this book at my book club.
Talked about different actors to play the parts..
though he may be too old..we thought Sam Shepard would be a good choice for Rex..
Loved the book and now my daughter is going to recommend it to her book club..
I told her she may have a whole new outlook on her youth..LOL @ 7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
What a book!
For those of us who have also lived a life charmed with imperfections, I found myself wondering if Jeannete also has moments of self doubt? Anger? Fear? My greatest fear as an adult is that someday I will become my Mother.
Book #2 needs to be written to bring us up to date on the Texas property, was it a figmant of her Morthers imagination, and her Mother's latest living arrangements, did she obtain the squatter property?
Thanks to Jeannette for letting us into her world and helping us see our past in a new light. @ 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm going into high school and had to do a project on one of nine books. I chose this book in particular because the name alone sounded interesting. I was not prepared for what i was about to read. It really opened my eyes. The project that I chose to do was a scrapbook of things that the main character would keep in a scrapbook. The book was very helpful in giving me ideas. I am an avid reader and this was one of the best books I've read in my lifetime. @ 6:11 PM  
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Anonymous Tony said...
Good Job! :) @ 9:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
i had to do a book report on this book the glass castle and this is a really good book .... i was really interested in the book.... and to some pepole its hard 2 tell your life story ..

but anyway this was aye good book and thank you for writing it @ 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I've always wanted to write a book about my child hood but i dont no if i should when i get older...its one of those things that would take me a very long time to do...i look up to her now that i've read this book @ 11:49 PM  
Blogger Jayke Elizabeth said...
The glass castle was one of the best books I have read in a while. I thought it was amazing how many stereotypes the squashed I mean they were all so smart and talented. Also it was heart breaking I cried so many times during this book, especially times that dealt with her dad. You never want to stop beleiving in the people you care about the most and I think that when she finally told him she was leaving it broke his heart. I understand a lot in this book I grew up with a mom who was a lot like her dad and no dad at all so it was amazing to see how well things went. Also it gave me hope to know that her mom survived on the streets so long and she loved it. I like knowing that things will be ok no matter what. @ 6:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
This was one of the most inspirational books I have ever read. Regardless of the percentage of truth, Jeannette Walls was able to present the world in a new light. We take so much for granted, including our struggles and this book can help you realize just how much it's all worth.

Also, I really enjoyed reading this interview. You asked some insightful questions many of which I was wondering about myself. @ 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Just listened to Jeannette in Montreal and she changed my outlook on life and especially giving me a perspective on how to improve my problem solving skills and more importantly how to forgive important people in my life. I wonder whether she has any need for religion in her life. I would doubt it. @ 3:55 PM  
Anonymous Thordis Malmquist said...
I´m a 58 year old lady who married for the 4th time 4 years ago and found my happyness with someone who dosn´t know the word anger or bitter. It´s never too late. I want to greed Jeannette for her candid book on her childhood. I have read it in a record time, it was a
Christmasgift from my daughter (33)I suggested she read it and her best friend and her bestfriend´s mother too, and then we would have a mothers, daughters discussion, just the 4 of us. I know it will happen in this new year 2009. Jeannette I bowe my head to your curage and a book full of feelings, life and strength. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, herer in Iceland. @ 2:58 PM  
Anonymous H. Stevens said...
Reading the book now, and am almost half way finished. I am enjoying it and am so shocked at everything that is happening. I feel a little compassion for both parents, which my friend has assured me I will lose when I finish the second half of the book. Both parents just seem to have so many of their own demons. Jeannette and her siblings are undoubtably AMAZING people. It makes me very thankful for all I have.

To the one Anonymous post, don't post such alligations against an author unless you have the guts to identify your self. This woman has laid her life out for all to pick apart. It is amazing how anonymity gives people such courage. Also, you do know the ACLU is the SAME organization that DEFENDS child molestor such as when they represented the North American Man-Boy Love Association? The ACLU represented this sick organization (NAMBLA) during the case of a rape and murder of a 10 year old boy, Jeffrey Curley. Defending the ACLU only proves you ignorance. The ACLU is one of the worst organizations around today and will protect ANYONE (including rapists, murderers, and child molestors). They will not protect anyone's religious rights however. So we are free to murder, but not worship. Thanks ACLU and Mr. Anonymous! @ 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I just finshed reading Jeannette's book and immediately went to the internet in an effort to contact her and was unable. I hope that she will read this.

There have been only a few movies or books that have left me remembering them days, weeks after the last scene, last words were read. Movies like Schlindler's List and Shawshank Redemption, I was unable to get out of my mind for weeks, months, year. I know this book will be the same.

I cannot say that I know exactly where she came from because I was not abused like the Walls children. My parents were good christian parents that had more children than any parent should have been allowed to have and therefore did not have the time or the love to give me or my thirteen siblings.

I do know the scorn and shame that comes from poverty, bing an outsider - it last a life time. @ 10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I think that this book conveys that you dont have to have a traditional up bringing to have good parents. Just because it is not he way most would do it does not make it wrong. I really appritiate that. Some how society has it built up that if its not the classic story book case then we should shed pitty. That its wrong. But a "Broken Home" can still be a good one. This book struck my heart. I will always admire Rex Walls. @ 10:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I just finished reading this book, got on google map and looked the town of welch including 93 hobart st. What a moving story. For every one reading this comment, I suggest you to read "Infidel", a book by Ayan Hirsi Ali, also a memoir. The similarities will strike you. @ 2:48 AM  
Anonymous Bill Ketelaars said...
This is by far the best book I have ever read.
This book stirred up so many emotions that it was impossible for me to put it down

Being an immigrant from a small town in the south of Holland I recognized similar incedents such as what happened in Welch.

Looking forward for the movie to come out

Bill Ketelaars
Canada @ 8:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Anonymous is talking badly about Jeannette Walls, which is really Rude, I think he/she is just plain jealous.

And to me it did not matter if the story was in every detail true or not, I do not understand the fuss about this, it COULD BE true, (and is the youtube video with the mother than a fake?? and her pictures??) the book is great reading and shows great characters, did any one ask Charles Dickens to write the truth and nothing but the truth?? The book is great - and ya està.
A Swede. @ 3:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I just finished the book and I was left with so many questions. I am really grateful you posted this. I feel that I have some closure now. I am however, really interested with what happened to Maureen. I am looking forward to Jeannette's next book. Thanks again. @ 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Leianna Robinson said...
I read this book for my junior year in AP english and I can honestly say I loved her book! I thought through nearly the entire book, "Rex Walls is horrible!" and I really thought that. But as his life came to an end I found myself crying as if I'd lost someone close to me. I realized, like every human being, he had moments that weren't so great but he also had moments that he was down right wonderful. I fell in love with the Walls family. @ 2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
This book was actually a summer reading assignment, and surprisingly... I LOVED IT! Probably one of the only books I have actually enjoyed reading. Maybe it's the way the book is written, or maybe it was my own selfishness that was turned completely around after looking into the life of a family like the Walls who worked so hard and commited so much to make for themselves a good life. I can honestly say now, Jeannette, you are my hero. @ 11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
i was always reading HARLEQUIN novels at wrk on my spare time...i hav this lady at wrk who always told me that i need to read other books apart from my romance novels...she walked in with this book 'THE GLASS CASTLE' few weeks ago and asked me to read it...i read few pages that day just to show her i was interested in the book and then i stopped...i was bored at home one week so i decided to read it again n i got so hooked onto it that i jus cudnt sit still till i finished it...OMG this book was jus jus googling bout JEANNETTE and her family rite now...jus wondering if her momz still alive???? does JEANNETTE hav ny kids??? wat happened to the land in texas n the house in phoenix??? curious if LORI eva got married n wat MAUREEN is upto these days??? to hav gone through so much in life and become sumthing is wonderful...MOUNTAIN GOAT u sure made ur dad proud @ 12:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I listened to The Glass Castle on audio in my car. I absolutely loved the book! My son whom is 10 loved it too! It only took one week for us to listen to the book in the car to and from school and work. You know the funny thing is my son thought the book was fiction until I said no, she really lived this life. He was stunned! He said, Mommy I am glad she made it and that he was thankful for his life. Now you can't get better than that. Jeannette, even though I do not know you personally I feel as though I do and I want you to know that I am very proud of you! Keep up the good work. @ 10:40 AM  
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Blogger einbui said...
My most favorite book. I could not stop thinking about the book at work, had to finish early so I could finish the book. I do not know what it is, just something about Jeannette´s story. I am waiting for the movie :-)

Greeting from Iceland

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
i just finished this incredible memoir and marvel at Jeannette and her whole family's strength and courage. I have so much to ask her...Jeannette, let's meet for lunch. Would love to shoot the breeze with you.
amazed and in awe... @ 11:34 PM  
Blogger jackie hoell said...
Incredibly written! Brought up so much for me, thank you for inspiring people everywhere! After I read it, I began to hate my dad less and let go of some of the pain I have been carrying around; it's relieving. I needed that, thank you! @ 5:35 PM  
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time it’s important to stay involved. Not only for keeping creative, but to keep yourself educated and relevant. To that end I feel that it’s important you keep doing “work.” Maybe @ 7:51 AM  
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Blogger ty said...
this book was probably the best ive ever read...I would like to talk to you as i have some problems that you probably could help me with because after reading your book our families are similar...If this site is relevant please help me talk to her my email is PLEASE HELP @ 11:56 PM  
Blogger hotline said...
If Rose Mary Walls is still alive, she should be in jail for child abuse and neglect. Jeannette defending her parents in any way is disturbing. She reminds me of the beaten dog that still stays with its master. Jeannette's glorifying her parents' sick behavior is abusive to children every where who are hungry and beaten. @ 9:15 AM  
Blogger Jude said...
As I read The Glass Castle, I pictured Jeannettes face as the young daughter in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. The story was respectful to her parents and siblings. I really enjoyed it and have passed the book along to a friend. @ 7:03 PM  
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Blogger JLP said...

Jeannette recently appeared at Meredith College sponsored by Quail Ridge Books. A great evening of articulate exchange. @ 12:06 PM  
Anonymous Oyun Oyna said...
I loved your book Glass Castle. I purchased the bookversion on cd's and loved more so. i recommend your book to many. I can't wait to see it if in deed it turns into a movie. Just goes to show no matter how you are raised one can make a differnce in their lifstyle. @ 9:31 AM  
Blogger helpertouch said...
Just finished the book. This is intense and powerful writing. I grew up somewhat similarly to Walls, and I am inexplicably emotional after finishing this book. As a writer, I've struggled with telling my childhood story and I'm empowered: "Tell the truth." I hope I can do so as nonjudgementally as Walls has done in this book @ 1:50 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
I hope to someday meet Jeanette. Her story is very compelling and mimics by childhood. I to am a survivor and accomplished professional. Those who doubt her written words obviously cannot relate to such a past. I am sure that some of the memories are vague and have perhaps exaggerated, however, in it's entirety, this book is outstanding. My childhood memories are vague, but only to protect me from severe pain and sorrow. Kudos to you Jeanette for having the strength and courage to pen your past! A must read for everyone. @ 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm writing a book report about glass castle and I one of the things i have to include is the community service that you do. what community service do you do? @ 1:17 AM  
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Waugh... Great blog. Found it by accident when I search for Glass Castle.
Belive me, I'll come back to this great blog. :) @ 2:32 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
to Janet walls, i read your book and it made me realize that I wasent the only one with a past. I'm glad that you and your siblings escaped that circle, and your book actualy made me think about mine. thank you for writeing that book, it's an insperation to me on my quest to make my own way. good luck with your other books!

~ no one in particular @ 4:59 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
It was so wonderful to read a book about some of the same experiences that I had as a child growing up in Albq. NM. So poor and with a single Mom during a time before food stamps. running out of food before the end of the month and being afraid that someone from welfare would check our empty fridge and get Mom in trouble. We did not have an indoor toilet either. How we got through I don't know how she held us together. But thank you for verbalizing some of the mixed feelings I often had.I just want to thank you. @ 9:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Thanks for the great interview on this superb memoir. Many of your questions were exactly the ones running through my head as I read the book @ 5:22 PM  
Blogger Jodi said...
While reading the book I found myself relating to Jeanette's mom. I didn't want to - I know we aren't supposed to - right? Good moms are supposed to be satisfied with domesticity. But something in her mom's story touched me -- that she wanted a life less ordinary.

I am always searching an adventure for my family, and while I don't think homelessness is an adventure (nor is a lack of medical attention/proper nutrition for one's kids), I can see the struggle in my own life to find the balance between positive parenting/providing a healthy environment for the kids and being free-spirited/having a life of adventure. Between being true to oneself and an image of what society expects. What a struggle! And through the Glass Castle, I can see how Jeanette's mom lost in many ways, and won in others!

Kudos to Jeanette for realizing that she has the power to find her own path and joy in adulthood. And love to Jeanette's mom, wherever she is, and I hope she can find peace with herself even when life isn't an adventure. @ 11:01 PM  
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Anonymous Raianne Islam said...
Im still wondering about her little sister. Did she get to experience the life of California the way it was described to her when she was little? Does Jeannette still have her scar from the fire? How did her boss react when he found out she stole a watch from his store..(but she put it back)? Did her mom become a famous artist? What about her semi-friend in Weltch? I should have taken the interveiw ...on the second hand never mind you would never get me to shut up. Im 14 by the way and this was the book i choose for my independent reading..(honestly cuz they were all out of Always Running and Autobiography of a Face) @ 2:29 AM  
Anonymous Jim S said...
I just sat in on your Q & A at ISU today at 3 o'clock and i just wanted to tell you that you gave the greatest public speech i have ever sat in on. You shared your emotions, humored the entire croud and made me, if not everyone get goosebumps hearing what you have no problem talking about. It was a hounor sitting in on your speech. Please contact me, for I know someone that had a bit of a simlilar story.

Thank You
Jim S @ 2:34 AM  
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The Glass Castle is a 2005 memoir by Jeannette Walls detailing her harsh but passion-filled childhood. Jeannette felt a deep yet seemingly irrational bond with her dysfunctional family: her father Rex Walls, her mother Rose Mary Walls, her brother Brian, and her two sisters Lori and Maureen. Her father was a dreamer and an intelligent person who loved to teach his children about the Austrian physicist Ernst Mach, basic aerodynamics, and Chuck Yeager, but was a terrible alcoholic, who would smash the windows of their house sometimes in drunken rage, and once lit their only Christmas tree on fire. Rex was always a bright man who had taught his children everything they knew, but his drinking was perhaps the greatest problem of the family.
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OpenID marina :) said...
My mom first started reading this book and I read it after her. I was sucked in. I'm fifteen. Kids at school would make fun of me for the two straight days I read it. "There goes Marina reading her book". I couldn't put it down. My goal in life is to meet Jeannette Walls in person. She is my idol. I dragged on the last chapter, not wanting it to end. I cried many times. She is a very strong person, to have that past and be the amazing woman she is today.I love this woman! @ 4:26 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
I was captivated by your memoir and couldn't put it down the whole way through! I am 13 and live in a wonderful home with wonderful parents, I have in no way experienced what you have but I admire you for your reactions and the way you utilized the cards you were dealt. I was so astonished when I heard your story because I had always thought of alcoholics as low life drunks who chose that way of life. I believed that if you tried to stop you could do exactly that...stop. I am beginning to realize that things aren't always the way they comes across. My jaw literally dropped when your dad quit drinking for your birthday, just to start back up again. The whole time you held no resentment towards him! I would like to hope that I would be able to do the same if I was ever in that situation but I fear I have much to learn in the area of forgiveness. You had every right to write a book about how tough and awful your life was. You could have complained and wallowed in self pity, making other people feel sorry for you. But you did not, and for this you gained my respect and I can definitely consider you someone I look up to. This is one of the books I will hold dear to my heart and reread over and over. Finally, I would like to thank you for giving all of us something to think about and marvel at, and hopefully apply your spirit and perseverance to our own lives.
A fan @ 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
When reading this book I didnt really connect that it was a true story. When it hit me I was dumbfounded. I can't even begin to imagine the strength and courage you must have had and still do. @ 6:02 PM  
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Reading Half Broken Horses. I don't understand the math on page 179, chapter beginning, "I was employed again". The frugalness is getting more and more unbelievable, but at least the math should add up. @ 2:18 AM  
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Blogger ninsha said...
After reading this book, I have completely readjusted my life and have had many many epiphanies since.

Of course you here things all of the time about words of is dont take anything for granted.

I have worked at not taking things for granted but now after reading this, jeanette and her siblings didnt take anything for granted, ever. they couldnt.
This is inspiring!.

In every moment i am automatically appreciating everything i have and like she said ,especially a hot bath.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Darrell from PA
I do not read very much as I always associated books with studying and exams. Your book turned me on to reading for pleasure and enjoyment. I know that may sound weird...but it is what it is. Thanks for writing about what is really important.
Peace @ 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I've just begun to read the sister gave it to me for my birthday. So far, it explains a few things about my family history. I'm a southern WV Walls by birth...I'm not surprised by what she writes. I grew up on the better side of the tracks, though. What can I's interesting, disturbing, uncomfortable, real...thanks, Jeannette, for your insights. @ 11:26 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
A fast, interesting read but something just doesn't feel solid about it--Something is missing, something in the area of integrity. A memoir is non-fiction--it doesn't have to tell every detail but the jump from dumpster diver in West Virginia to happy, successful, kind, understanding happily married adult with her own apple trees from which to make the Thanksgiving pie..Where is the chapter in between?
Congratulations to her for making a successful life ..with themes of secrets, grandiosity, and determination all included. @ 12:47 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
age:14 :)
Read it and it's my favorite book! :)

PS: You're dad is great! @ 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Thank you for your story. It reminded me of my life. life is what we each choose to make it. I hope your little sister got it together. I can't tell you what reading it ment to me. It really hit home with old memories. No matter how bad they were they made me, me. Thanks again @ 2:01 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
I thought jeannette walls book was a hard read at first because i usually never read anything like it, but as i got further and further in, i found myself emotionally invested in the book. i was shocked by all that happened and sometimes i HAD to put the book down and told myself i couldn't read anymore. 5 minutes later i'd be reading it again. and by the end of the book, i had to stop every 3 lines to just cry. i adore you jeannette, and am so glad that, through out everything, you were able to do everything you've done for yourself. your a role model for role models, and are now my hero :) @ 8:53 PM  
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Blogger Colette said...
I saw your appearance on Oprah but didn't get the book for some reason. My friend recently recommended it and I made the mistake of picking it up 10 minutes before I planned to go to sleep. I couldn't put it down of course and in fact ended up laughing uncontrollably until I lost the strength to continue. I finished it today and found it to be compelling, humorous and totally unforgettalble.

I kept seeing John Goodman as Rex Walls. I do hope this makes it to the screen. Thank you for your honesty and your willingness to share your story. @ 12:02 AM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
what i find so interesting is that both her parents were so clearly suffering from mental illness. her mother my guess has bi-polar disorder: one week she was hiding under her covers not wanting to face the world and the next she was up painting almost deliriously. her father masked his illness through alcohol which is typical of sufferers to use substance abuse.
either a family in poverty in america had no access to mental health in those times or the stigma of mental health and those suffering is still what goes on... i enjoyed the book but would have liked some mention- i do believe although jeannette told the truth like her mother said that some sort of mention of mental health issues were later discussed. thank-you and a great book !! @ 1:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
My friend recommended this book to me. How did you "kids" ever survive? I'm so glad you stuck together. Being a victim of a different kind of abuse, I understood on a different level the discouragement and the victory times you went through. Thank you for your book!! I am passing it on to someone else. So sorry your Dad couldn't have gotten help in time as I think he truly loved you "kids". Will there be a movie? They will have to be great children actors to do this:) @ 8:14 AM  
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Bu dizi bir gemi dolusu korsanın bulduğu sandıklardan sünger bob bileti bularak sinemaya gitmeleri ile başlayan macera planktonun iftira atmasıyla ayrı bir şekil alacaktır. Denizlerde yaşayan süper harika bir varlık olan deniz kızı mindy onlara sihirli rüzgar torbası verir.
Sünger bob’ta anahtarı almayı başarmanın heyecanı ile ilk olarak goofy goober sınavından geçmelidir ve başarır arabayı alıp tüm hızıyla yola çıkarlar. İskelet dolu bir yere gelirler ama aldırmazlar. Orda duran kaymakcı kadına gider sünger bob , patrikte otobüste bekler anlar ama o salak kafası onu hemen unutup dondurmasının çikolatalı olmasını ister. ve sünger bob çikolayı alınca eline yapışır ve yaşlı kadının aslında canavarın dili olduğnu görür. Sünger bob 1. bölüm canavarın ağzı kapanmaya başlar. ve sünger bob dondurma ve boğazı arasındaki yeri koparır. Ssünger bob patrik’e atla der atlarlar ve canavarda arabayı yutar.Yine arabasız yayan kalırlar. Ancak gidecekleri yol çok uzaktadır zıplayamazlar çukurumdan inip yoldan gitmelilerdir ama çukur canavar doludur. Sünger bob yeni bölüm‘leri cnbc ve tnt de yayınlanmaya hala devam etmektedir.
Son söz olarak ben bu çizgi film e bayılıyorum. Sizlerinde ilgiyle izleyeceğinizi tahmin ediyorum. Hoşça ve dostca kalın. @ 4:01 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
I read the last part of the book and started crying my eyes out so much to the point where I couldn't stop. It made me realize how much I miss my own father and I told myself that from now on I will have a better relationship with him. He was also an alcoholic and my mother believes in a hands-off childhood (not as extreme as Ms. Walls but, I have limited rules). This really encouraged me to make an amazing life for myself. I appreciate this book so much. @ 4:46 PM  
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My name is Sheila Fair, I am a student at Harrison College in Indianapolis, IN. I want to commend you on a fantastic book. The Glass Castle. I loved it. I was able to relate to some struggles.
Thank you so much. @ 8:50 PM  
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
one of the best books that i've ever read!! thanks jeannette walls for giving me this perfect gift; your story is absolutely amazing! looking forward to reading "half broke horses". @ 7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Jeanette- I read this book in less than a day. I absolutely could not put it down! Thank you for sharing your story and for showing the world that happy endings do exist. @ 1:04 AM  
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Friends I want share with you some A dialogue is a conversation. Writing is a conversation between the writer and the reader. In our case, between the poet and the poetry readers. If you’re publishing your work, don’t pretend you don’t care what other people think of it if they don't seem to understand or like it. Of course you do! You're not going to please everybody all the time, so don't worry about the odd negative comment, but if people aren't responding as you'd like them to, try to see it as an opportunity. Take feedback on board, rewrite and perhaps even send a message to ask someone who has commented to comment again on your latest draft. One of the mistakes it's easy to make is writing about something with implications that seem obvious to you, but are not contained in the poem itself and so are unclear to someone who doesn't know you. Imagine reading it as someone who has no idea whether you’re old or young, male or female, American or Australian, a pupil or a teacher… is it as obvious now? If you want the dialogue you are having with unknown readers to improve, you have to learn to read your own poems from a stranger’s perspective. That is one of the most useful skills in improving your poetry. You can try it with something you’ve written now. Go through line by line from the beginning and try to write down what a stranger would interpret from what you’ve said. The picture will build up through the poem, but it may be that you can identify a place where you’ve assumed they will understand something that is obvious to you, but wouldn’t make sense without some piece of knowledge that you have about your life which is separate from the poem.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
I loved this book. I had a weird childhood too---lots of similarities with Jeanette's. Unfortunately, like most people who grew up with uncaring parents, I didn't become a successful writer. Or anything. My life has been seriously chaotic...everyone always says "Write a book!", as Jeanette has. I feel that she is exceptionally brave for doing so. The book is well-crafted--- not a sob story, nor is it exploitative. She just tells it like it is.
I would like to know how she did manage to get through everything and become successful. For most people, perserverance can cultivate survivalism, but won't necessarily cancel out the lingering effects of trauma.

I'm blown away by the part in the interview where she talks about how much her parents "loved" her. I definitely did not get a sense that -any- of the Walls' kids felt loved. If anything, it reminded me of when I was a child in similar situations, telling myself (or being viciously told) that "things could always be worse". It wasn't the lack of heating or hot water or food--- it was the nasty attitude of her parents. That getting sick was being "weak and useless" or that it was perfectly fine to watch children struggle to scrape maggots off rotting slices of ham. Her parents constantly ramble about self-sufficiency and being tough, not taking charity, etc... yet both of them struck me as exceptionally lazy, spiteful people. Too much pride to accept free warm coats for your children, but not enough compassion to care when someone they stayed with touched one of the kids inappropriately. eating a chocolate bar under a blanket while your kids starve. the only love i saw in this book was between the siblings.

This was not simply a "non traditional" childhood--- it isn't as if her parents were adventurous hippie nomads leading a free-form life out of a van with their kids. The whole time I was reading, I thought of my mother (and her way of parenting), struck with the incredible selfishness possessed by our parents. Nothing about this book made me think of a family "sticking together through homelessness and poverty"--- I saw an idiotic drunk and a very selfish woman leading their children around on their pointless adventures, not even caring if they had enough food to eat or a bucket to crap in. I spent much of my life homeless, starting from age 14, and I've treated my travelling dogs better than the Walls treated their kids.

The book was inspiring to me, knowing that even if your parents don't give a rat's ass about you, you can still potentially make your life better. However, I would really love it if she elaborated more on healing from trauma. I've repeatedly told myself that life is adventure and make-do with what you have--- but one simply cannot equate endurance with happiness.

I would love to read more from Jeanette. Especially how does one learn to adapt into regular life after growing up this way? How does she manage to love her parents? This book was a great read @ 6:40 PM  
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