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"The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls - Page 2

post #21 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
:

I thought it was a wonderful memoir.



:



I can see what you mean, but I didn't find it shocking at all.



I have. It's sad, heartbreaking, frustrating, irritating all at once. It is hard to find solutions to root problems.
Wow... i'm sorry... perhaps that's why you didn't find the first chapter shocking, perhaps because you could relate to the author?
post #22 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Janelovesmax View Post
Hey!
I didn't realize this thread got picked up!

I am thinking that discussing chapter by chapter could be annoying for those who already read the book, especially if it happened a while ago...

So I will just say that I finished the book and really liked it. I also was satisfied with the ending of the book.

This book made me feel so angry at times at the parents! Best interests of their children came last all the time. Every time the things would start improving (like moving into a house they inherited), the parents would something to mess it up.

About the kids, I am just amazed at how great the kids are in this book! They are so smart, strong, endurant. They had been through so much and they managed to build their own future, not fall of the right path and succeed.
In the way, the intelligence of the father and free spirit of the mother did play a positive part in their characters. True survivors...those kids.
I was interesting how long it took for my main character to lose faith in her father's dreams.
:

ITA, with everything you said.
post #23 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Janelovesmax View Post
Wow... i'm sorry... perhaps that's why you didn't find the first chapter shocking, perhaps because you could relate to the author?
Thanks. You are probably right. I didn't find it shocking at all, but I had a very similar childhood, and felt much like the author felt about her parents in my early adulthood and now.

It is very frustrating to have a highly intelligent parent, who is intellectually cabable of just about anything, but who has dependency issues and vices (as well as highly independent personalities) that prevent them from overcoming, or recovering from, addiction, homelessness, etc.

It is very depressing, frustrating, sad, heartbreaking, and irritating all at once. It often seems very hopeless.

What impressed me was how well adjusted the children in the book were, for the most part. I think many children who grow up in such environments are much less stable.

One thing I wish the author would have written more about was her marriages. I believe she was married twice, the first marriage ending in divorce.

I have had a lot of trouble in my own marriage, and my husband often blames my "issues" on my childhood. Sometimes if there are things in life that I have held as long time goals, but which my husband disagrees with, he'll say something like, "it's not my responsibility to make up for your childhood." A few times during arguments he's called me "white trash" or "trailer trash" and later apologized. Those kind of comments really sting. I wonder if a person ever truly can overcome stigmas of economic class. The author talked about how she hid her upbringing and poverty from people around her. I can relate to that because throughout my life, when people have become aware of where I came from and what type of people my parents are, I have often lost friends.

Like the author, I used education as my life saver. Thank goodness for public education! I really related to her stories of hunger and schools. I was always hungry as a child, but still managed to excel academically, and was always at the top of the class. College helped to erase a lot of memories of growing up in utter poverty, and provide opportunities in life that seemed to always evade me in childhood.

The book was truly a meaningful and beautifully written memoir for me. I just wish that the author was able to provide more resolution at the end. It seemed as though nothing was ever going to make her parents change, but maybe that was a resolution of and in itself. The children found resolution perhaps, or maybe resignation. The end of the book was more about acceptance of what had been, and still was, instead of a change of heart and change in direction for the parents.
post #24 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
A few times during arguments he's called me "white trash" or "trailer trash" and later apologized. Those kind of comments really sting.
Wow, that's totally unacceptable and completely mean!!!

The author seemed to indicate that, with her first marriage, she found somebody "safe," who was the complete opposite of her father.

Then she said, "he was a good man, just not the right man for me" so perhaps there wasn't chemistry or something there.

I loved this book, too, in a heartbreaking way, of course.
The mother seemed bipolar.
post #25 of 44
I also found it poignant that she made her own braces (or attempted to, at least!) It made me wonder if she had ever had braces as an adult. I noticed that she had a closed-mouth smile on her cover picture.
post #26 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
I also found it poignant that she made her own braces (or attempted to, at least!) It made me wonder if she had ever had braces as an adult. I noticed that she had a closed-mouth smile on her cover picture.
I can't recall if it was in the book, or if I heard Ms. Walls talk about it in an interview that I saw her give, but she said that one of the first things that she did for herself when she got her first job was to pay for braces to straighten her teeth. She said it was one of the best things she'd ever done for herself.

I thought that she was pretty industrious about a lot of things in the book, including trying to make her own braces.
post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
I can't recall if it was in the book, or if I heard Ms. Walls talk about it in an interview that I saw her give, but she said that one of the first things that she did for herself when she got her first job was to pay for braces to straighten her teeth. She said it was one of the best things she'd ever done for herself.
Interesting!
post #28 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post
Interesting!
I can't recall why she thought it was the best thing, though. I think maybe she said she had suffered low self-confidence because kids had teased her a lot about her teeth when she was in school.
post #29 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
Thanks. You are probably right. I didn't find it shocking at all, but I had a very similar childhood, and felt much like the author felt about her parents in my early adulthood and now.

It is very frustrating to have a highly intelligent parent, who is intellectually cabable of just about anything, but who has dependency issues and vices (as well as highly independent personalities) that prevent them from overcoming, or recovering from, addiction, homelessness, etc.

It is very depressing, frustrating, sad, heartbreaking, and irritating all at once. It often seems very hopeless.

What impressed me was how well adjusted the children in the book were, for the most part. I think many children who grow up in such environments are much less stable.

One thing I wish the author would have written more about was her marriages. I believe she was married twice, the first marriage ending in divorce.

I have had a lot of trouble in my own marriage, and my husband often blames my "issues" on my childhood. Sometimes if there are things in life that I have held as long time goals, but which my husband disagrees with, he'll say something like, "it's not my responsibility to make up for your childhood." A few times during arguments he's called me "white trash" or "trailer trash" and later apologized. Those kind of comments really sting. I wonder if a person ever truly can overcome stigmas of economic class. The author talked about how she hid her upbringing and poverty from people around her. I can relate to that because throughout my life, when people have become aware of where I came from and what type of people my parents are, I have often lost friends.

Like the author, I used education as my life saver. Thank goodness for public education! I really related to her stories of hunger and schools. I was always hungry as a child, but still managed to excel academically, and was always at the top of the class. College helped to erase a lot of memories of growing up in utter poverty, and provide opportunities in life that seemed to always evade me in childhood.

The book was truly a meaningful and beautifully written memoir for me. I just wish that the author was able to provide more resolution at the end. It seemed as though nothing was ever going to make her parents change, but maybe that was a resolution of and in itself. The children found resolution perhaps, or maybe resignation. The end of the book was more about acceptance of what had been, and still was, instead of a change of heart and change in direction for the parents.

I truly appreciate your input. Thank you for letting into your life a little bit.
post #30 of 44
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post
I can't recall if it was in the book, or if I heard Ms. Walls talk about it in an interview that I saw her give, but she said that one of the first things that she did for herself when she got her first job was to pay for braces to straighten her teeth. She said it was one of the best things she'd ever done for herself.

I thought that she was pretty industrious about a lot of things in the book, including trying to make her own braces.
I'd love to read some interviews with her. She is such a fascinating person.
post #31 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Janelovesmax View Post
I truly appreciate your input. Thank you for letting into your life a little bit.
This was such an interesting book for me, especially when I discussed it with other people (here on MDC and also in real life with co-workers, etc).

I was shocked that people were so shocked by the way these children grew up.

Mentally, I can understand in a clinical way how growing up that way is not the norm for most people.

But emotionally I'm always shocked when I see so many examples of people who grew up with loving parents, present parents, parents who disciplined, parents who had self-control.

I'm always a little shocked that most people I know weren't always hungry or cold when they were children, or that they knew pretty much what would happen the next day.

I don't often meet people who grew up the way I did (other than a few people online once in a while). I often wonder where kids who grew up with absent parents, drugs in the household, addiction, poverty, violence, neglect ended up...where are they now?

I run with a mostly college educated (mostly graduate degrees), pretty professional, mostly middle class crowd. Most of these people who are my friends are people I met through work. They all grew up middle class or higher.

So, I can really relate to Ms. Walls. But I wonder where kids who grew up with similar backgrounds as me are now...I don't run into them in my SAHM groups or at work.
post #32 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by That Is Nice View Post

I'm always a little shocked that most people I know weren't always hungry or cold when they were children, or that they knew pretty much what would happen the next day.

I don't often meet people who grew up the way I did (other than a few people online once in a while). I often wonder where kids who grew up with absent parents, drugs in the household, addiction, poverty, violence, neglect ended up...where are they now?



There was a family in our neighborhood (when I was growing up) where the kids were severely neglected and abused. Everyone knew it; no one called social services (until most of the kids were teenagers.) I was just a kid, so I didn't know how to help them, of course.

Then on Fathers' Day of this year, there was an article in the paper about one of the kids in that family. (It didn't mention the childhood neglect; it was just honoring this guy as a single father.)
He's raising a son on his own, doing the best he can, but he's functionally illiterate and has a hard time holding down jobs.

It was a heartwarming and heartbreaking story at the same time.
post #33 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post



There was a family in our neighborhood (when I was growing up) where the kids were severely neglected and abused. Everyone knew it; no one called social services (until most of the kids were teenagers.) I was just a kid, so I didn't know how to help them, of course.

Then on Fathers' Day of this year, there was an article in the paper about one of the kids in that family. (It didn't mention the childhood neglect; it was just honoring this guy as a single father.)
He's raising a son on his own, doing the best he can, but he's functionally illiterate and has a hard time holding down jobs.

It was a heartwarming and heartbreaking story at the same time.
I totally know what you are saying about heartwarming and heartbreaking.

I have a few friends who are teachers who work with troubled, at risk teens, who mostly (not all) come from situations at home that are very unstable. They face such hurdles that as adults they really have to do the best they can to hold down jobs and try to navigate life.

I think the concept of pulling one up by one's own bootstraps is available, but it is very, very difficult, takes a lot of hard work, and a lot of luck as well.

I think the author of the Glass Castle acknowledged that. Not all the children in her family came through the experience unscathed. And she herself worked hard, but also had some lucky breaks along the way.
post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by A&A View Post



There was a family in our neighborhood (when I was growing up) where the kids were severely neglected and abused. Everyone knew it; no one called social services (until most of the kids were teenagers.) I was just a kid, so I didn't know how to help them, of course.
I think it's pretty common for people to turn a blind eye. Even if someone had called social services, I'm not sure what good that would have done. It might have made things worse.

People called social services all the time on my parents. I suspect neighbors did, teachers probably did, and others as well. We were always being investigated.

The truth is there really isn't a good system in place as a safety net for kids with neglectful parents or incompetent parents. The abuse has to be pretty severe and evident, usually, before much will happen.
post #35 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by cjanelles View Post
I was really disturbed by the book.

I appreciated the writing, but the story itself wasn't one that I'd choose to read again.
Yes, that. I also always find it immensely hard to believe that kids who grow up this way turn out alright. That's my big beef with Harry Potter, too. How can a kid who's been raised "all wrong" turn out any kind of okay? It doesn't fit what I know from life experience and it doesn't jive with what I learned in college either. It takes a superhuman effort to rise above the abusive conditions they were raised in. And where was the CPS? Why wasn't the school intervening for these kids? I was pretty upset.
post #36 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by philomom View Post
Yes, that. I also always find it immensely hard to believe that kids who grow up this way turn out alright. That's my big beef with Harry Potter, too. How can a kid who's been raised "all wrong" turn out any kind of okay? It doesn't fit what I know from life experience and it doesn't jive with what I learned in college either. It takes a superhuman effort to rise above the abusive conditions they were raised in. And where was the CPS? Why wasn't the school intervening for these kids? I was pretty upset.
My personal belief is that some kids who grow up this way turn out ok, but most do not.

I'm speaking from anecdotal experience. I grew up with very similar parents and a very rocky, unstable, and impoverished childhood. I turned out ok. (I guess). What worked for me was that I excelled academically and went to college, and then established a career. I really understood how the Walls kids (especially Jeannette and her sister Lorie) prospered because of their academic excellence. That was me.

However, my siblings didn't do this, and their lives aren't as impoverished as our childhood, but they aren't educated, skilled, and so they haven't really overcome where we started.

The key, I believe is education.

You also asked about CPS. Or the schools. Let me just say that CPS and the schools do check things out, but they overlook a lot. I'm sure more kids fall through the cracks than don't.

And the author of the book did mention how her youngest sister wasn't as stable as the older ones. This type of childhood impacts different personalities very differently.
post #37 of 44
In her family's case and the time frame she grew up (late 60s/70s) there were no mandated reporting laws, and people didn't report anything short of near-murder to the police.

Quote:
How can a kid who's been raised "all wrong" turn out any kind of okay? It doesn't fit what I know from life experience and it doesn't jive with what I learned in college either. It takes a superhuman effort to rise above the abusive conditions they were raised in.
Keep in mind that the only people who surivive to write best-selling books about this sort of childhood are resilient and yes--took near-superhuman effort to even achieve enough normalcy to function.

Read Resilient Adults to understand the research behind why some kids make it out of this sort of childhood, and why so many more recede into drugs, alcohol, abuse, illiteracy, etc. Those are the kids who don't write memoirs.
post #38 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by gurumama View Post
In her family's case and the time frame she grew up (late 60s/70s) there were no mandated reporting laws, and people didn't report anything short of near-murder to the police.

Keep in mind that the only people who surivive to write best-selling books about this sort of childhood are resilient and yes--took near-superhuman effort to even achieve enough normalcy to function.
:

I think this is very true.

Also, even with the dysfunction, nomadic life, and alcoholism, the author's parents were loving towards their children for the most part, and also placed high value on education (and were themselves educated). Those are key things any child, no matter what the parents income and stability, needs to succeed.

Without the love and instilled value on education, the author likely would have faced even greater hurdles than the ones she rose above so admirably.
post #39 of 44
I loved this book. It didn't feel disturbing to me. It seemed to me that a lot of the ideals of the parents in this story are very similar to my own and those of my parents. I loved all the reading they did together, and science lessons from Dad. I loved the gift of a star, but more than that the one on one time with a parent. The parents seemed very loving to me.

I think that's what resonates for me. I had very young parents who did some stupid things when we were growing up, but I have never once felt unloved. And that is what carries us through life. When I describe some of the crazy things that happened to me when I was a kid... in my mind they are good warm memories... and then I see the look on other people's faces of shock. It seemed like the author was telling those kinds of stories.

To a point. We never went hungry and my father kept the same job for 30 years before he retired. My mom always had three meals a day ready for us. I wonder if I would feel the same way if I had been hungry all the time. My parents also believed in letting us learn about the world on our own, but I know they would not have made us responsible for cooking on our own at three years old.

But I resonated with the wholesome view of parenting that she describes her parents having. Just letting the kids sleep in their refrigerator boxes because they enjoyed it. Letting them play, spending time with them as individuals, and that optimistic attitude... I love that.
post #40 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kanga View Post
I loved all the reading they did together, and science lessons from Dad. I loved the gift of a star, but more than that the one on one time with a parent. The parents seemed very loving to me.
ITA.

:

I'm really amazed that some people thought the parents in the book were unloving.

The parents had their faults, some of the faults major ones. But I felt the family was there for each other and, in general, very loving.

I think that is one of the reasons all the kids seemed to do pretty well. Education was stressed, even when they didn't have a lot of money. I liked the science lessons and the star story, too.
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