Book Review: “The Glass Castle” – Engaging Tale About A Spectacularly Dysfunctional Family

downloadThe book “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls was first published in March of 2005.  I had heard about the book periodically throughout the years but given the similarities of the title to a movie in the early 2000’s called “The Glass House” I think I subconsciously put the book into a B-list thriller category.  What a mistake on my part.

I became curious about the book again when the trailer for the movie adaptation came out earlier this year.  The trailer looked intriguing and I considered seeing the movie.  Though, one look at the Rotten Tomatoes score quickly changed my mind.  Here it would seem that Martin Scorsese’s condemnation of the site (along with MetaCritic) was apt.  But is it the site’s fault for steering audiences away from a mediocre movie or does the fault lie with the movie itself?  To quote The Queen of Thorns from Game of Thrones – a question for the philosophers.  One tidbit that I did pick up from Rotten Tomatoes was that the book was far superior.  I decided to finally give it a whirl.

Let me start just by saying I loved this book.  It draws you in from the very beginning and keeps you engaged throughout the entirety of the story.  Jeannette Walls writes in a very entertaining manner and the story proceeds along at a rapid – but not rushed – pace.  In a nutshell, this book is about a spectacularly dysfunctional family.  If you ever found yourself wondering why your family is so crazy this book is for you.  Once you start reading you’ll feel better about your situation almost immediately.  If not, perhaps you have a book to write as well.

The book isn’t only for those who believe their kin is nuts.  It’s really for anyone who likes real stories about real people.  The parents in the story are an odd combination of warm, distant, immature and occasionally wise.  In my opinion, they had no business raising four children and likable as they could be at times, were horribly neglectful.

But they must have done something right.  The four children they brought into this world were intelligent and street smart.  I’m astounded they survived their childhood.  They were scrappy, self-reliant, and very loyal to each other.  I found myself rooting for the Walls children each time they encountered a very real obstacle.  Their living situation was harrowing at times, squalid others.  Make no mistake, their lives were in danger often.  Their parents attitude towards this danger could only be described as lackadaisical.  They bewildered me.  More than once during the course of reading this book I stopped to thank my lucky stars that my crazy family wasn’t so bad after all.

Rotten Tomatoes be damned, I will probably watch the movie once it comes out on video.  The book was so enjoyable that I want to spend a bit more time with this unique and ultimately triumphant family, warts in all.

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