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The Glass Castle: Critical Book Review

1440 words - 6 pages

Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle: A Memoir. New York, NY: Scribner, 2005. Print.
This book was chosen to show that coming from a dysfunctional family does not have to hinder the success of a person’s future. Jeannette Walls is a journalist, writer, and former gossip columnist contributor to MSNBC.com. Despite living her childhood in the hands of neglectful parents, Jeannette Walls and her siblings have developed strength and achieved admirable success through their unconventional life of poverty.
The Walls family has four children, Lori; the eldest daughter, Jeannette; the second oldest daughter, Brian; the younger son, and Maureen; the youngest daughter. Lori has always been the smartest ...view middle of the document...

Jeannette Walls always strived to become more than her parents. She dreamed of becoming “either a veterinarian or a geologist specializing in the Miocene period” (Walls 183). Jeannette took offense when a man who helped take her drunken father home said, “for the daughter of the town drunk, you sure got big plans” (Walls 183). She knew she had far-reaching plans for success and she did not like the fact that other people would not expect that of her because of her dysfunctional family. At age twelve, Jeannette was already “weighing down her options, doing some research at the public library, and picking up information about how other families on Little Hobart Street survived (Walls 187). She took jobs as a babysitter, and even went so far as to lie about her age to get a job at a jewelry store (Walls 215). She also worked for the “Maroon Wave”, the newspaper at her high school; a hobby that would eventually expand into her future career.
Jeannette experienced a breaking point through her experiences with her parents as she grew up. No longer was her father her idol, she could now see that his promises were nothing more than drunken dreams that would never come true. At one point Jeannette even stated that believing in her father was getting harder (Walls 169). The “Glass Castle” that he promised to make her became a garbage dump overflowing with trash (Walls 155). Jeannette realized how difficult it was to be a strong woman when she knew her father was lying about taking money and using it to buy alcohol, but she could not bear another fight with him, knowing he would deny it all (Walls 214). Her mother felt she was not obligated to earn money stating: “Why do I always have to be the one who earns money? You have a job. You can earn money. Lori can earn money, too. I’ve got more important things to do” (Walls 218). Through her realization that she can no longer depend on her parents to take care of her, Jeannette had confirmed her plans to move to New York to live with her older sister, Lori.
Considering the circumstances of Jeannette and her siblings, I admire their tenacity to pursue their goals despite their setbacks. I could see the frustration in Lori when her father ruined her artwork for a scholarship entry (Walls 227). I could see how angry and ashamed Jeannette was when she found out her father took all of the money Lori and she had saved up and how hopeless the sisters felt afterwards (Walls 229). The fact that Jeannette had given up her opportunity to go to Iowa in exchange for her sister to take a bus trip to New York, shows how much strength and determination Jeannette had to get out of her dire situation (Walls 230). Jeannette had even set plans that she would pursue once she graduated from high school stemming from “enrolling in a city college, and then getting a job with the AP or UPI…or with one of the famous New York papers (Walls 235).
Jeannette Walls has shown perseverance and strength by striving to become...

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