Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Glass Castle


Linda had been telling me for months that I needed to read "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls- she'd even hunted for it for me, quite feverishly, at our local library's book sale (shamefully, the next day, I realized I actually had bought the book a while back and had misplaced it somewhere in the gluttonous pile of literature I harbour in my bedroom- totally pathetic!). Finally, about a week ago, in my futile attempt to abandon my nighttime decorating porn habit, I picked up this memoir and whew, people, I was immediately hooked! I finished it yesterday, reading the last chapter aloud to Seth, who woke up early from his nap....

I always feel like I'm saying good-bye to a best friend when I read the last words of a treasured book- then it takes me a while to get into another one because I feel haunted by the voice of the previous author, and, for a time, nothing seems able to compare.

Growing up in economically challenging situations, as Jeannette Walls chronicles so magnificently, I think your stories are more colorful- you come to adulthood faster and more furiously- and you have strengths that others may not relate to or posses. You are also a more well-rounded person, one who is capable of empathizing and understanding the vast inequalities in the human experience. I come from an extra-large extended family, all of us, as children, treading the line of lower-middle-class life, at one end of the spectrum or another. Of the cousins that I feel closest to, Debbie and Shawnda,I know that we could all swap tales of hardships and triumphs, joys and heartaches, that our own children, with great relief, will never understand. Our parents were siblings who had survived the rigors of poverty with enough dignity and intelligence to create, in their offspring, a determination which has gotten us all a better life. I am thankful for that today- for my parents' good intentions, and their expectations of me to succeed, no matter what- the difference between children who rise above and those who don't, can be boiled down, very simply, to this, I believe- to having parents, or caring adults in one's life, who demand from you your very best, and who define greatness in terms that they may never have experienced themselves.


Shawnda and I- September '08- on our girl's weekend in D.C.,

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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