Monday, February 05, 2007

The Glass Castle

I just finished this book.



It may have been the most frustrating reading material I have ever encountered. It was also interesting, absorbing, well-written, not believable, depressing but also a little bit inspiring.

The book is a memoir basically about four children growing up with parents who refused to provide for their children on almost every level. These children went without structure, guidance, security, food, plumbing, electricity, you name it. The parents, however, had money and opportunities at their disposal that they neglected to use to help their children. Cue my frustration.

I was bugged not only because these parents ought to have been in jail--why didn't anyone do anything?--but also because I am naturally a little skeptical of memoir as a literary genre. The author begins with detailed descriptions of her life starting at age 3. Huh? So much of the dialogue, reactions, feelings, sequence of events, and actual occurrences have to have been invented. How accurately could a person remember the details of her childhood, enough to write a book 288 pages long? I'm a cynic. But, in this post-A Million Little Pieces era, can anyone get away with a memoir that is even the tiniest bit fabricated? It confuses me.

Regardless, I really really liked this book. If anyone has read it, please share your impressions. If you haven't read it, put it on your list.

12 comments:

Neil and Diana said...

On my list it shall go. I agree that it can be disturbing to have a window into how other people choose to live their lives, especially when children are involved.

AmyJune said...

I'm surprised that I haven't read it as it seems like something I would like. I will definitely check it out. And I agree with you about the whole "memoir" thing. I was so disgusted with the James Frey thing I couldn't even finish the book.

Emily said...

Amy, this book has Social Worker Must-Read all over it. I think you'll like it.

Alice said...

My sister read this book and highly recommended it to me... I just haven't gotten to it yet.

I agree about the memoir thing, but I admit to liking some of them. I enjoyed Sting's.... "Broken Music: A Memoir." But then I'm a big fan of his.

sarah said...

I'll be sure to put it on my list of must-reads. Why can't I ever get to that list?

Courtney said...

This was the book for my book group this month - since I'm out of town I haven't read it yet but plan to. I heard it was an intriguing read. I don't think the Million Little Pieces guy did much to help the reputation of the memoir gnere.

Nancy said...

How depressing is it? I have a hard time getting past depressing stuff if most of the book is that way, but I've heard it is a good read.

Jord said...

So Emily I have been reading your blog for an hour and have to pull myself away only to attend to my crying child! So great....your thoughts, ponderings, achievements, stories, etc. and I can totally relate. I agree on the memoir theory that the memories may not be as accurate as the author imagines. It is hard enough for me to remember events that happened when I was three, let alone the text of the conversations that went on! I love that you love The Office, and we are definate addicts! If you haven't ever watched Arrested Development (which only ran for three seasons, for shame), it is in the same vein. I love that you love financial planning and doing taxes, because of late reading finance books, articles, and theories is one of my hobbies. Well, that is enough of a comment for now, but so as not to be a stalker I thought I would say hi!

lys said...

Oh, Emily, we need to chat. I felt the exact same way about reading that book. Exact. In fact, I feel like I'm reading a report of what I said at my book club when we discussed this. It's very surreal. . .

Emily said...

Nancy, it's not too depressing, because she writes pretty matter-of-factly. But there's a lot of bad language.

Jordan, welcome! I love that you commented, although if I know that people in my real, everyday life are reading, I might have to be more careful about who I talk about. Just kidding. I love that we have a lot in common. I think you are a doll.

Alyssa, whoa.

Katharine said...

Emily,

My name is Katharine, I am friends with Mandy from BYU. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book. I just started it and am loving it! My mother-in-law recommended it highly and I am so glad I started it.

AzĂșcar said...

I have been meaning to read this book for a long time, thanks for the reminder.