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 althoughnot 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 surreptitiously eat a “huge family sized Hershey chocolate bar” while the rest of the family scavengers for food.
When the author catches her eating the candy and questions her mother about it she pitifully cries, “I am sugar addict, just like your father is an alcoholic.” Even with insanely aggravating anecdotes like this Walls simply states, “Through my parents I saw that good people are capable of doing things that hurt the ones they love.” The author avoids bitterness and chooses to see the best in her mother instead of complaining and asking for pity. She does the same thing in another even more infuriating instance. In the occurrence, Walls recalls miraculously coming across a two-caret diamond ring and asking her mother to pawn it in order to pay the bills and buy food. Her mother instead keeps the ring for herself and says, “The surest way to feel rich is to smother yourself in quality nonessentials.
” Along with this she adds another unbelievable remark of, “At times like these, self-esteem is even more vital than food.” Even with maddening experiences like these Walls refuses to succumb to the typical revenge seeking child and instead somehow loves her mother for even her most unbearable qualities. The author’s unrelenting hope serves as the very factor which allows her to endure her mother’s less than motherly actions. Although her father proves even more infuriating than her mother, she refuses to hate him for his faults and instead describes her devout faith in him. She describes him as a man who “was an expert in math, physics and electricity and read books on calculus and logarithmic algebra.
” Despite his obvious intelligence he can never seem to keep a decent job, making the situation Walls goes through even more unacceptable and exasperating. Instead of spending his time and energy on making sure his family does not starve he “soaks up booze like a sponge.” Walls even further describes him as a man who “knowing that all the bars and liquor stores would be closed on Christmas, usually stocked up in advance.” Even after stating statements like these she still writes, “In my mind, he was perfect.” As a result of.