I am currently making my way through The Glass Castle: A Memoir, by Jeannette Walls, and having read the first three quarters, I love it.
The story is of Ms. Walls' upbringing (along with her three siblings) at the hands of eccentric, nomadic parents who wanted their children to embrace life fearlessly - her mother, an artist who somewhat intelligently rationalized their unconventional crazy ways, and a genius alcoholic would-be-inventor of father.
Throughout the author's life, her family lives in shacks, eats out of dumpsters, steals lunches, rarely bathes or launders their clothing, and travels from the west coast to West Virginia to live with Mr. Walls' family.
The story begins with an adult Jeannette, looking out of a cab in NYC wondering if she is overdressed for the evening as she spots her mother dumpster diving. Awesome.
Knowing that all four siblings eventually carved out their own successful lives in NYC, I am making my way through this book laughing and shaking my head in amazement of the life lived by this family. However, the life forced on the Walls children was a clear case of parental neglect and abuse. No question about it. Yet, up to the this point in the book, the author has not complained or judged her parents.
In my mind, I have been questioning the author's ability to tell the many, many stories of her childhood (beginning around age 3) in such detail. Nonetheless, Walls' is an awesome storyteller, who is able to show how strong family bonds can be, even through the most difficult hardships. While I don't know how the story ends, the sheer fact that the book was written is a clear example of the possiblity of children breaking away from the norms set by their parents and creating something positive out of disturbing childhood experiences.