03 March 2010

READ: Jeannette Walls - The Glass Castle

Many are probably familiar with The Glass Castle, the courageous memoir by freelance journalist Jeannette Walls. With grace and a sense of humor, Walls tells of growing up as part of a dysfunctional family of vagabonds - her brother and two sister and their father, an gambling alcoholic inventor, and their mother, eccentric artist. The rootless family travels the country in search of a break (and to build an ambitious house of glass), moving from Arizona to California to Nevada before eventually settling in the southern coal town of Welch, West Virginia. The book is an unbelievable tale that is wild and laugh-out-loud funny at its highest points, horrifying and tear-worthy at its lowest. Though the Walls children are consistently a victim at the hands of their parents outlandish personalities and others who come and go from their lives, the writer always keeps her chin up and pushes forward.

Though, only about one-third of the book takes place in Welch, the pages contain some of the most shocking and encouraging moments of the story. The Walls family and their story may be extraordinary, but The Glass Castle gives an honest and unparalleled insight into the many struggles of a life of poverty in the Southern West Virginia coalfields. Jeannette Walls has written a book that is impossible for anyone to forget - especially a West Virginian.

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