Jeanette Walls is my hero. There is nothing that expresses our human desire to chase Eden more than people who are constantly on the move. At the heart of the Glass Castle we see an entire family chasing Eden.
Jeannette Walls had a difficult story to tell–one that not many would seek out, but she tells it in such a charming way that the reader is drawn into the story and cannot put the book down. We all like to read about triumph over tragedy, but we rarely unmask the pain of poverty and the isolation that comes from unstable parenting and moving. By telling her very personal story, Jeannette Walls takes the shame out of poverty and homelessness. For people like me who often moved and had no community growing up, Jeanette Walls is a champion.
Her story starts with an emergency and the entire book is about one crisis after another. People who grew up in dysfunctional families will get it right way. The adrenaline rush to find a food and shelter. The struggles of emotions because your parents cannot provide and take your money. People who grew up sleeping on beds might never appreciate the joy of sleeping in a cardboard box, but Walls makes us rejoice over it. If you thought your childhood was a miserable mess, if you were told to stop thinking about the past, Walls will lead you out of the darkness and into the light. Her spirit of conquest in adversity will give you strength to tell your own story.
As eccentric as her mother Rosemary was, she gave her daughter some of the best advice I have ever heard. I wrote to Walls on a forum once to express my love of her book and my desire to write my own story. She responded to me in kindness and said, “I will give you the advice my mother gave me–just tell the truth.” I cried because I wished my own mother had given me that advice.
The stories in her book sometimes make her mother look quite irresponsible, yet her mother living in truth has allowed herself to be portrayed as a young Jeannette once experienced her. So I would have to say that Rosemary Walls is my hero as well because she was willing to let her daughter tell the truth.
Hiding the past or ignoring the truth is a hallmark of dysfunctional families. We are only as sick and as our secrets and for some of us those secrets started behind closed doors with the people who should have loved us the most.
If you click on the picture below and order a copy of the Glass Castle, you will never view the poor children down the street the same way ever again.
Thank you Jeannette. I’ve read all of your books, but the Glass Castle has changed my life because it was a true story, it was your story and you had the courage to tell it.