The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

October 6, 2011
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How do you criticize someone’s life? How do you write a book review on a biography or autobiography? The only bad thing you’re really allowed to say is “Oh, the writing style was terrible,” or “Oh, this person needs a better editor because the grammar stunk.” You can’t criticize the content, because that’s someone’s life. It can’t be “unrealistic” because someone actually lived it. I think that’s why no one ever has anything bad to say about a memoir or those “Confessions of an [Insert Dramatic Description Here]” books, which is part of the reason why I don’t read book reviews of autobiographies – of course people are going to say they’re good, otherwise they’d just be confirming that the author’s life really did suck.


Somewhere along the way, someone recommended that I read The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I’m not really a big fan of nonfiction, but this book pretty much fell into my lap, and rather than go off and shelve it – because I’m lazy like that – I decided to check it out and read it instead. I wasn’t disappointed.


The first line of this book is what sucked me in: “I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster.” I knew I wouldn’t be able to put the book down after that.


The Glass Castle is about Walls’ life of poverty and near-homelessness, and how this lifestyle can sometimes be a choice. Not the best choice, but a choice nonetheless. To steal that cliché line from every book reviewer in the country, “it’s a real eye-opener.”


The only negative thing I have to say about this book is that I didn’t like the ending, but that’s only because there really was no ending; Jeannette Walls is still leading her life, so the end of her story has not yet been written. Read the book. You’ll see how people on the other side of the poverty line live, and maybe you’ll be a bit more likely to give your change to that homeless man on the street.


Just a thought.


I GIVE THIS BOOK FOUR OUT OF FIVE STARS.





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