A Literary Review of The Glass Castle, a Book by Jeannette Walls

“…he said it was interesting. He used the word ‘textured’. He said ‘smooth’ is boring but ‘textured’was interesting, and the scar meant that I was stronger than whatever had tried to hurt me.”

The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls is an inspiring memoir that displays her heart breaking childhood and coming of age. The Walls family is far from the norm of a traditional American family. Her parents, while intelligent and insightful, choose to condemn their family to a nomadic lifestyle wandering the deserts of America.

They finally settle in the father’s home state of West Virginia. This eventuality is not a vast improvement.

Jeannette Walls is a very accomplished non-fiction author and former writer for MSNBC. The Glass Castle exposes the wounds of her childhood, which for many years she had chosen to keep private. The memoir received a positive response from both critics and the general public. Wall’s memoir has also received several awards including: The Christopher Award, The American Library Association’s Alex Award and the Books for better living award.

While her parents, an alcoholic father and mentally ill mother, may have lacked in providing material things for their four children, they were able to seed them with the mindset needed to be successful in life. The introduction to the memoir reflects a tone of shame towards her parents in current times only to take major shift of admiration. Each Chapter takes the reader through a memory of Jeanette Walls’ life that reveals a little bit more wisdom about the human spirit and its power to overcome.

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The first third of the novel is about the nomadic adventures and lessons learned in the deserts. For a short while the family has a stable home they inherited in Phoenix, Arizona only to forsake it for the “adventure” somewhere new – West Virginia.

The struggles in the deserts are vastly different to the hardships they face in West Virginia. In the desert the family struggled with poverty, but in contrast they were tightly knitted together. Through the near starvation, poverty, freezing winters, and barely habitable household in West Virginia – which didn’t have a roof, plumbing or running water – the family begins to come undone. They drift apart. This portion of the memoir shows some of her realization that the author does not want to follow the footsteps of her alcoholic father or mentally ill mother. Most of her siblings take similar steps in leaving their broken home by going to New York with the exception of the walls family’s youngest daughter who runs away to California.

Unlike other memoirs, Walls does not write this story in a self-pitying tone. Instead she tells it like it was and allows the reader the freedom to form their own judgments on how to feel for her. This memoir will subtly lead you into rage, sadness and moments of bitter-sweet laughter. The authors ability to captivate the readers while also making the readers ask themselves the big questions relating to family and life. Jeanette also uses several motifs of various items or situations to reveal more about humanity as a whole and her personal self. Walls utilizes “a tiny Joshua tree sapling” to symbolize that the struggles that each individual suffers is what makes each person beautiful. Walls wanted to replant it near her home, in Phoenix, AZ. Walls told her mother that she would nurture and protect the sapling so that it could grow nice and tall and straight. In response her mother frowned and stated that she’d “be destroying what makes it special. It’s the Joshua tree’s struggle that gives it its beauty”. In many ways the Joshua tree also represents Walls herself.

The concise details Jeanette employs invokes a true insight into her early life. This book is insightful about problems that various families have that deal with alcoholism and other psychological problems within a household. Jeannette Walls tells this story with love and surprisingly clear memories of what this family endured throughout her childhood.

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A Literary Review of The Glass Castle, a Book by Jeannette Walls. (2021, Dec 15). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/a-literary-review-of-the-glass-castle-a-book-by-jeannette-walls/

A Literary Review of The Glass Castle, a Book by Jeannette Walls
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