I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster.
That’s how Jeannette Walls memoir, The Glass Castle, begins. Having read her first book, Half Broke Horses about the life of her maternal grandmother, I knew Jeannette Walls was a masterful storyteller. What a story she has to tell!
You know by the opening sentence of the book, this will be no ordinary story. You have no idea, however, how extraordinary Jeannette and her siblings childhood will be. She masterfully weaves her astonishing experience with grace and humor. The many laugh-out-loud moments in the story provide a counter-balance to the otherwise unbelievable intensity.
I’m very selective about reading memoirs. I hate shock-and-awe techniques used by so many to grab an audience. There are many who overcome incredible odds on the way to a productive life, but so few are able to share their story without sensationalizing the truth of their lives. The Glass Castle isn’t devoid of emotion, but there is a certain no-nonsense approach the Walls children grasped to survive.
I don’t want to say too much so as not to give away any of the story, but think this is a must-read book for anyone. We’re confronted with the age-old question of nature versus nurture and why some succeed against amazing odds. It also reminds us that we never really know someone’s true story and what, if anything, would be different if we did.