The Glass Castle
Two weeks ago, some friends of mine were in town, so I met them for dinner, and after dinner we stopped by Barnes & Noble for coffee and conversation. As it turned out, there wasn't so much as a free pillow for any of us to sit on, so we wandered around for a bit and headed for an ice cream joint. But while we were at B&N, my friends convinced me to buy a book called The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I had never heard of Jeannette Walls before, but I did a little research on her when I got home, and she has written for some pretty big publications, but is most notable for being the main gossip columnist at MSNBC.com for eight years, before leaving in 2007.
I got a little bit nervous, because I don't consider gossip true journalism. I hate shows like "Entertainment Tonight" and I don't have any reason to watch E! (where Walls was a gossip correspondent). Celebrities are bizarre and I don't share the same values as most of them, so I don't give a damn who marries who, who impregnates who, or who got sent to the psychiatric unit recently.
Even so, I kicked back with my new read and it wasn't long before I was hooked. It is an amazing story. For two decades, Walls hid her own background of neglect and severe poverty. Raised by a shiftless drunk of a father, to quote Walls, and a teacher turned artist, neither of whom could be bothered to work, Walls grew up moving from obscure town to obscure town to avoid bill collectors and law enforcement. She dug through the trash and stole food from friends' houses to survive. The title of the book refers to a glass house her father promised to build the family for years, always promising to invent something spectacular and make them rich. Walls' parents eventually choose a life of homelessness, even though their kids had begun to flourish.
I walked away from the book (which I finished while waiting for my husband to get out of surgery on Monday) absolutely dying to meet Jeannette Walls, because The Glass Castle has inspired me to go back to school for journalism, and to write my story in earnest, and not worry about publishing it right now. If Jeannette Walls can be an educated, successful adult after a piss-poor childhood filled with pain, then I really have no excuse. I can do it.
If you read only one book this year, read this one. It will open your eyes to the plight of underpriviledged children, the homeless, and will inspire you to become better at whatever you do.
Jeanette, if you ever read this... girlfriend, you rocked my world.