Every once in a while I read a book that makes me want to start back over at page 1 as soon as I read the last word. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls was one of those books. I just finished reading it a couple weeks ago and I love love love this book. Mostly because it was a brilliantly written story of her very interesting life, but partly because it made me feel sane. I was a psychology major in school so I am always fascinated by what motivates people and makes them think the way they think and act the way they act, this book is filled with interesting characters that left me both fascinated and baffled.
Jeannette is one of 4 children raised in a nomadic family. They spent the first half of the book in the deserts of Arizona and the coast of California, but eventually made their way to West Virginia. I don’t want to include any spoilers so I won’t go into detail, but I just have to mention how fascinated I was by Jeannette’s parents. Her mother Rose Mary was an artist with a teaching degree who avoided both working as a teacher and doing anything remotely domestic. Although she had all of the resources necessary to earn a paycheck and provide for her family, she chooses to pursue her passion as an artist (which she wasn’t making money from). Her father, Rex,was an alcoholic and although he was a skilled engineer didn’t do much better in the “providing for the family department.” He was brilliant and probably could have engineered rockets for NASA if he really put his mind to it, but for a number of reason’s he chose not to.
As I was reading the book I was struggling with my feelings towards her parents. I was beyond frustrated with Rose-Mary but kind of liked Rex. Maybe I was giving him a pass because he was struggling with an addiction? I really don’t know; as soon as I would start hating him he would do something charming or show some vulnerability and he would pull me back in. I didn’t have those moments with Rose Mary, it was mostly frustration. She wanted her kids to be self-sufficient from a young age and I respect that, in fact I try to do the same thing with my kids, she just took it to a level which I find hard to understand. I understand her passion and her intent, and actually admire how non-materialistic she was, I just can’t help but be baffled by how she interacted with her kids.
Anyway, discussing the book without including spoilers is tough so I am going to stop before this get’s even more strange. I’m having a book discussion with myself and I’ve overused the word “fascinated.”
Jeannette wrote a book about Rose Mary’s childhood called Half Broke Horses and I also heard the book will be made into a movie starring Jennifer Lawrence. It’s kind of embarrassing how excited I am about that.