Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Glass Castle

Ready for a book that will change the way you look at both life and people?  Well worth a few hours of your life (and really, what isn't awesome about curling up under a cozy blanket with a huge mug of steaming tea or coffee and a gripping story).  Jeannette Walls delivers the retelling of a childhood, her own, packing a wallop you wont soon forget.  Her father, an alcoholic, impulsive, rebellious and overflowing with big ideas.  Her mother, flakey, imaginative, romantic, lazy and creative.  Together, these two taking their children on the wildest of rides which you, the reader, get to be a part of.  This book will grip you from the start, not letting go until the very end when you put it down, breathless.

Jeanneatte and her siblings grow up within a tumultous, impoverished childhood.  Living in squalor at times while at others, nearly homeless.  The odd blip in between of residing in a mansion of sorts left to their mother in her own mothers passing away.  Their experiences running the gamet from high to low.  Bullies abound, drunken extended family members causing trouble, ramshackle homes, scrounging for food, jaw dropping injuries that are brushed off and covered with merely a Band-Aid.  Just when you think it cannot get any more shocking or earth shattering, it does. 

There are moments that, while reading, you despise her parents.  Awe struck and angered by the consequences following on the heels of fatal flaws in their judgement, leading to being horrible happenings for their children.  But then, they surprise you.  Within this story, there are also moments of such wonder, magic and love between the parents, the author and her siblings.  Your heart softening and even aching with empathy for not only the kids but her parents too.

That's what I love about this memoir.  Showcasing the fact that people, just like life, are rarely black and white.  That instead, humans and life are wrought with varying shades of gray.  People can do messed up things, making grave errors in judgement, while still being genuinely good at heart.  Just like someone can do good things, all the while being a terrible person deep inside.  The key in figuring out who is which is found in pulling back and observing the big picture over a wide range of time and moments. 

While her parents do bad, even terrible things throughout their parenting, the reader also realizes that neither of them are awful people.  That in fact, these two seem to love their children rather deeply.  The issues are more along the lines of them both not being suited to being parents, instead of their being bad people. 

Told in no frills language, straight forward and simple, this makes for a quick, easy, yet no less engaging read.  Flourish isnt required for this story.  Its powerful enough, packing a major emotional punch, as is.  This book will change the way you look at others.  Hopefully lightening judgement laden first impressions, instead realizing that you never really know from what background someone might be coming.  Those quiet, less clean, guarded children who arent so readily accepted into the fold?  They just might be the ones going home to something that would make you jaw hit the floor. 

This story also teaches the reader about the power of resiliance, motivation and inner strength.  Your background does not define you.  Yes, you are a part of where you come from.  But it does not determine where you can and will go from there on.  To all of those wallowing or blaming their current day problems and challenges on either childhood or their parents, this book will be a refreshing and awe inducing wake up call.  If anything, a challenging background story just provides you with more ammo and strength for the future to come.  Difficult roads often leading (if you make it so) to the most awesome of destinations.

The Glass Castle teaches us of forgiveness.  No parent is perfect (though hers are especially far from it).  Yet it doesnt necessarily mean the love they have for their children is any less.  And the lesson extends further than with regards to just our parents.  No, I am not advocating forgiving continuously horrible behavior or people who repeatedly harm us emotionally and/or phsyically.  What I am pointing out is that wonderful people can make major mistakes.  The key is in watching closely.  Are they good, loving people overall?  Is their inner character and soul a genuine and quality one?  This book helps in drawing attention to these difficult life questions. 

Lastly, this story makes for an entertaining, engaging, captivating read.  One which you will come away from looking at things differently.  I have read this book several times now and each time, finding myself turning the pages just as quickly.  Loving it just as much with each subsequent read.  An emotional whirlwind, a fascinating life to peer into, a relevant experience to witness and read about.  The shoes of this author are more than worth taking a walk in.

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