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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Great book: The Glass Castle

One of those books that's been on my To Read list for a long time, and then my book club picked it for our August selection. I could swear I owned a copy of this book, but when I was ready to read it, I couldn't find it, so I had to get it at the library (there were surprisingly few copies available, for a book that's been out for several years).

I stayed up very late finishing the book, and then couldn't get to sleep for about 2 hours, I was so tweaked by it. I enjoyed reading it because it was interesting and well written, but those have to be the worst parents in America (I kept wanting to reach into the book and throttle them). Okay, so they aren't the very worst parents, but close, and they have no excuse (besides alcoholism and mental illness) for not caring for their kids! I mean, these are educated, sophisticated people. They really take selfishness and delusion to new levels. As a book club member said - birds do a better job than they did! Why have kids, if you have no desire to care for them in the most basic ways??? I could somewhat understand the bohemian lifestyle that the family had in the southwest, and though it was meager and marginal and unsettled, the kids seem to thrive and even relish it. It seems like they would have done much better to stay out west. Why on earth would they move to WV, where the weather was awful and the people were worse - the father knew what his family (and the town) was like (and he resisted the move), but his wife knew also, and she still chose to put her children into that environment. I think more than anything else in the book, I just didn't understand why the parents would subject their kids to that, and to stay there, year after year. Awful on so many levels. It was infuriating to read (there were many "you're kidding me" moments, but, for me, probably the worst was when Rose Mary (the mom) told Jeannette (the author) to get over it when her uncle tried to fondle her; I would have broken all his fingers, or told her to do it herself!) It seems like almost a miracle that the kids emerged from that intact, and managed to become productive and functional people as adults. This challenging book made for a lively discussion at the book club, and it certainly makes one appreciate one's own situation (my parents kind of sucked, but at least we had plenty to eat)



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