Folks, I’m going to cut right to the chase with this one. The Glass Castle has been met with some skepticism by those who think this memoir isn’t entirely all fact. I’ll admit, some chapters I had to suspend belief that Walls remembers these details herself. As a whole, I have full faith that Walls gleaned the extra details from her siblings and her mother so that the story she wants to tell is full and complete.
With that, I have to admit that this is a hands-down-no-brainer-five-star-read for me, but not because this was an “enjoyable” book. The events of Walls’ childhood are difficult. They may make you uncomfortable if you are not a fan or reading about emotional and physical abuse. In the first chapter alone, Walls tells the story of how at age 3 she gave herself third degree burns by boiling hot dogs alone. She had an extensive hospital stay, complete with skin grafts. (Here’s one of those moments you have to trust that Walls got her details from her family members.)
The content was indeed difficult, but Walls handles her story delicately. At the same time, she refuses to shy away from the reality of her childhood (poverty, instability, homelessness, malnourishment, malnutrition, unreliable parents). Walls describes it perfectly in her own words as “dancing between turbulence and order.”
I don’t want to give too much away from the story by giving you too many details. Each chapter is an episode, with each story building upon the last. Walls doesn’t shy away from her past. She tells the raw truth and exposes some interesting themes in the meantime. She explores the power of loyalty and the impact it can have on a family. She works through the complicated feelings she has about her parents’ actions, while continuing to love them through it. Her story is a testament for difficult family dynamics, and that love is unconditional.
This is one of those books I’m going to actually leave my book darts in, friends. If that’s not a sign of a good book, I don’t know what is. The Glass Castle has been a great conversation starter in my personal life, with many of my friends from across the country messaging me to tell me their thoughts. Believable or not, this is a story that does create an opportunity for exploration into your own rose-colored view of the past and for deeper conversations on memories versus reality.
TL/DR: Just read it.
Rating: 5/5 stars
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