The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
I got a hold of this book at a friend´s house. She was getting rid of some old stuff and showed me a small shelf full of old books. I picked out two based on the title and cover alone. I figured this one had to be some sort of science fiction novel about a society divided by those that had (living in their glass castles) and those that had not, but it wasn´t.
It took me a while to get around to reading it, as my schedule usually got in the way of my leisure reading. But when I finally did open the first page, it immediately drew me in with its crisp narrative.
We begin with a curious scene of a woman in a taxi, who is off to a fancy party, spotting her mother rummaging through a dumpster on the streets of New York. The woman hides from mother´s view and tells the taxi driver to take her back home. We are then transported back to this woman´s childhood and the eccentric and very unstable life that she lived while being brought up by two adults with hearts of gold but perhaps not the perfect fit for parenthood.
It´s a wonder our narrator survived the fires, the moves, the lack of any structure, but this story is about resilience, and she has plenty. This story is also about the importance of understanding that our parents are not perfect but that they are trying their best.
A curious thing about reading this book is that it took me about 100 pages to realize that I was reading a memoir. The adventures of this family are so outlandish and deliciously written that I lost myself in the prose. It was only after reading yet another exceptionally written passage, that I took a moment to look at the cover of the book again (a habit I have had since my early years, mostly to see how the cover art reflects on the material inside) and saw, at the bottom, in small letters: A Memoir.
Fact is indeed stranger than fiction, I suppose – or whatever makes for a good story. If all the accounts are true or not are not of great consequence, as the narrative springs along confidently and each chapter is more entertaining than the last. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in light reading that still manages to carry an air of wit and wryness.
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