Beach Reads: 'The Glass Castle' by Jeannette Walls

By Emma Tremblay,

Reasons to Read:
1. You may already know Jeannette Walls as a former MSNBC gossip columnist (for “Scoop”), or for her other journalistic work over the years.
2. Jennifer Lawrence is all set to play Walls in a movie of the book. Seriously. Hollywood announced.

Page Count: 288 (paperback)

For Fans of: Memoir, nonfiction, Lying by Lauren Slater, Silver Linings Playbook

No-Spoilers Plot:
Jeannette Walls, her brother, and her two sisters are the children of charismatic Rex Walls and hopelessly incapable Rose Mary Walls, neither of whom is equipped to be a parent. Growing up in the southwest, they face scorpion stings, shooting lessons, and ridicule from classmates when they go to school.

But their parents paint things a different way; the bill collectors are FBI agents out to get them, Venus is Rex’s birthday present to Jeannette, and a visit to the zoo means a chance to reach through the cage bars and try to pet a the tigers. The illusion can’t last forever, though. Money runs out, Rex's alcoholism takes control, and Rose Mary, likely mentally ill, is too busy painting to find food for her family. Jeannette, the "hard worker," must fend for herself.

The Long and Short:
This is a story about a dysfunctional family, but you may not realize how dysfunctional it is until you read it a second time—or unless you periodically stop and consider the facts hard. Walls so convincingly describes a brilliant, beautiful childhood full of adventure that you will want to believe it’s all true. She never appears self-pitying, and the book doesn't lapse into anger or judgment towards her parents. Instead, Walls describes her fantastic memories for the world to draw our own conclusions.

Every Thursday, I’ll be posting a new book recommendation, aiming for light beach reading material. Got a recommendation for me? Response to the book? Comment below!

image: Amazon

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