The Glass Castle is a memoir by Jeanette Walls describing her turbulent childhood years, and how she and her siblings survived poverty and neglect against all odds. Her father was an alcoholic who she longed to trust, but who let her down time and time again. Her mother was an artist with her head in the clouds, with little grip on the realities of hunger and child safety. The Walls family lived a “nomadic” lifestyle, often voluntarily living without a roof over their heads. Despite the many struggles of their childhood, the Walls children became successful in life. They succeed in spite of their parents.
The tone of the novel is set when within the first chapter, Jeannette burns herself cooking food over an open flame (at age three) and her father subsequently breaks her out of a hospital. What follows are the many, some humorous, several depressing, exploits of Jeanette’s father Rex Walls. One of the main focuses of the memoir is Jeannette’s relationship with Rex, who cares for her deeply, but who can’t give up alcohol for his children. An ongoing question that the reader must ask is whether this love is genuine, and whether his stated care for Jeanette justifies his many flaws. Rex always promised his children that he would build them a house made entirely of glass- a glass castle. It is up to the reader to interpret whether this castle was ever intended to be built.
This book truly is a must-read. It is not simply a novel; it is a recording of real life. It is full of danger and emotion, and brimming with moments that will make you laugh, and (quite often) cry. If you are looking for a page turner of a success story, look no further.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Wells is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.
Where I Live by Brenda Rufener tells the story of high schooler Linden Rose. When you read high schooler, you may have pictured someone who has a typical life with friends, homework, and a family. Linden Rose has all of these things, but no family. Homeless for about a year, she lives at school; no one knows about her secret because she does not want anybody to know. Her two closest friends, Ham and Seung, are under the impression that she lives with her constantly absent Father at a nearby trailer park. Linden works hard in school to keep up her guise in order to have a shot at the future.
Flying under the radar is all she wants to do, and she does just that until she meets Bea. On the surface, Bea is the popular girl everyone admires. However, she comes to school one day with a bloody lip; everyone thinks it is from her boyfriend, but she vehemently denies this. This is hard for Linden to fathom because her place in life is due to domestic violence because of the various men beating up her mother, who eventually died and left Linden to live with her grandma, but she also died. In her gut, Linden knows that she needs to tell Bea’s story, but is unable to do so without revealing some secrets of her own.
This story was an emotional journey, but one thing that the reader will keep doing is rooting for a better life for Linden. Linden is portrayed in a way that she feels to be real, and the reader is able to connect to her. The story was slow-moving, but I do not think there was any other way for the story to be told. By building the story slowly, but surely, the author was able to depict the journey of Linden. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a book that takes on a different about high schoolers.
– Anmol K.
Where I Live by Brenda Rufener is avaiable at the Mission Viejo Library.
When I think of poverty, I think of homelessness, starvation, sadness and hopelessness. I would never have thought that it could be adventurous and fun. But Jeannette Walls does not hold back and tells everything about poverty you never would have known.
In The Glass Castle, Walls tells the true story of her childhood. She grows up in the roughest parts of poverty with her two sisters, brother and parents. They constantly move all over the country. Which the kids think are adventures, but really, the parents are running from bills and responsibilities.
At first I was very skeptical of this book. My mom recommended it to me and sometimes when parents say you should read a book it can be super slow and super educational. I was worried the writing would make this interesting plot turn boring. But luckily, Walls is an amazing writer. She makes you feel like you are right there with them every time they leave in the middle of the night.
Normally when I love a book I read it as quickly as possible, but for this one I didn’t. I felt the need to soak in every situation. Sometimes, I had to put the book down and walk away before I began to read again because it got so intense. I highly recommend this book for anyone who understands funky families (which we all do) and it is definitely one of my favorites. And I hope the movie is just as good!
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.