I am forever reluctant to pick up nonfiction books, I see reading as a way for me to escape into a fantastic worlds where anything is possible. However, time and time again, I find myself picking up nonfiction and enjoying them. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls is no exception. I liked it, didn’t love it.
The characters in this story are incredibly interesting and even gave me a new perspective on homelessness. I loved that Jeanette’s parents were eccentric and often made conscious choices and preferences to live their lives as they did. The characters were real, and as a reader, it was at times frustrating to know they exist(ed) in the real world. Jeanette’s father is probably one of the most frustrating nonfiction characters I’ve encountered in a long time. Throughout the book, he just seems to become more and more disappointing and never really seems to find rock bottom. Her mother, similar to Lenora Allbright in The Great Alone, stands by his side through it all which makes my feminist blood curdle in my veins.
I wish I had read this one before I read Breaking Night or The Hillbilly Elegy. While its unbelievable that these stories are real and truly inspirational, I am becoming fatigued by the theme of coming from nothing and getting to the very top.
A common theme in all three of these books is the need for love to succeed. In each story, the author (main character) had someone who loved them, even if it was in a very dysfunctional, yet genuine way. I really believe that having love in their lives, no matter how strange it was, really made all the difference.
I guess coming from nothing and making it to “alright” doesn’t make a very good memoir? Fair enough, but maybe it would actually be refreshing every now and then. Three stars because I’m tired of the theme, honestly, I would have probably given it four stars if I hadn’t recently read two other books with very similar themes.