Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

From September 24 to October 1, libraries everywhere will be observing Banned Books Week. Books banned (or challenged) will appear in library displays to encourage customers to free their minds and read a banned book. The Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeannette Walls is one such book. Challenged for its profanity, criticism of Christianity, accounts of sexual abuse and prostitution, it is the amazing story of an unusual family.
Jeannette, a brother and two sisters grew up in an ever-changing environment. Moving from town to town, the family often “skedaddled” in the middle of the night. They camped in the mountains and in deserted desert towns. They slept in their car and in cardboard boxes
Jeannette’s father, Rex, was brilliant, a dreamer and an alcoholic. Her mother, Rose Mary, a would-be artist, preferred creating a painting to cooking a meal for her children. Both father and mother had an unconventional attitude about childrearing. The four Walls children basically raised themselves. Jeanette was three years old when she was seriously burned while cooking her own supper.
However, the children learned to read from their father, who also left them with dreams of a “glass castle.” Their upbringing was both a curse and a blessing. Cursed with embarrassing situations, like having to wear shoes held together with safety pins. Blessed with the desire to move forward and better themselves.
Walls was a respected journalist before writing The Glass Castle, revealing the truth of her childhood after twenty years of hiding her past. The “challenged” situations in her memoir are part of her history and need to be told. Despite poverty, fire, embarrassment, and near starvation, she tells the touching story of the Walls family with honesty and love.
Jane Kaufman

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