***Post written by Carol Kramer, Northeast Representative for WSPA***
Now that I am semi-retired and have made the time to read the volumes of books that friends and colleagues have recommended through the years, I have read more books than I could ever have dreamed of reading. It’s not as though I am lying around eating bonbons while I read a book a day. Far from it! As those of you who are also retired know, it is amazing to think that we had time to work and do all of the things that we do now. It’s mind boggling!
As a school psychologist I have always been interested in resiliency. I’ve worked with siblings where one of them approached life with an attitude that said ‘because I endured a life of neglect and abuse, society owes me something’, while the other sibling had a positive, upbeat, can-do attitude of life. I’ve always found those differences intriguing and compelling. As a matter of fact, had I pursued a doctorate in School Psychology in my younger years, my dissertation would have somehow been related to the topic of resiliency.
Quite some time ago I read the memoir of Jeannette Walls entitled The Glass Castle. Some of you may have seen the movie with the same name which attempted to put Jeannette’s life on the big screen. I saw the movie, but I highly recommend the book over the movie. We all know that directors need to cut many things out of the movie to make it bearable for us in the theater. The book covers much more of her life than the movie does.
As an adult, Jeannette was able to look back on her childhood days from a perspective which included her undying resiliency and her love for her family. She endured years and years of neglect and abuse from her parents who, at times, were too busy with their own agendas to even acknowledge their children. Her resiliency shines through even when you think she should have exhausted her positive attitude days and years ago.
The back cover of the book summarizes it by saying: ‘The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family. The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered. The Glass Castle is truly astonishing ~ a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.’
Once again, I highly recommend this read!
I agree, Carol, that the book is much better than the movie. It’s astounding to read about the extreme level of neglect and chaos these children experienced, due to alcoholism and mental illness (including personality disorders), and how well they did when they were old enough to be on their own. It’s a truly remarkable story. When I hear people talk about what a difficult childhood they had, I’m often tempted to recommend they read “The Glass Castle” to get some perspective. Thanks for your review!