In this both heart wrenching and slightly humorous memoir, successful journalist Jeannette Walls tells the bittersweet story of her rather dysfunctional and poverty stricken upbringing. Walls grows up in a family trailed by the ubiquitous presence of hunger and broken down homes. Throughout the memoir she recounts memories of moving from one dilapidated neighborhood to another with her three other siblings, insanely "free sprinted" mother, and incredibly intelligent yet alcoholic father. The author focuses on her unconventional childhood with somewhat unfit parents much too lazy and self-absorbed to even obtain decent jobs. Although Walls's childhood gushes with heartbreaking tales of searching through dumpsters for food, she remains as unbitter as possible and instead views her youth in an almost comical light. While most in similar situations observe experiences like these through unforgiving eyes, Walls views her unfortunate experiences through the transparent walls of the "glass castle" and recalls how although not rich with money, she learns to overflow with not only strength, but the determination to succeed as well. Although her parents put her through very difficult experiences, she manages to optimistically accept her past and create a much better life for herself.
Walls consumes the memoir with depictions of her parent's eccentric parenting styles. Although not a drunk like her father she describes her mother as possessing the "mentality of a four year old" while at the same time being "incredibly advanced intellectually." Despite her intelligence, her mother sits around and watches Jeannette's father squander their money on beer and cigarettes while she tries to develop her "hidden artistic talents." Even with a teaching degree she refuses to get a job until begged to do so by her starving children. Not only does she refuse to get a job when she knows her own children are hungry, but in one part of the memoir she actually stoops so low as to...
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