Your Garage Best Books of the Month Amazon Fashion Learn more nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Recess Monkey Fire TV Stick Sun Care Patriotic Picks Shop-by-Room Amazon Cash Back Offer roadies roadies roadies  Amazon Echo  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Echo Dot  Amazon Tap  Amazon Echo Introducing new colors All-New Kindle Oasis UniOrlando Segway miniPro STEM
Customer Discussions > The Glass Castle forum

The Walls parents - questions for Jeannette


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 26-50 of 57 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 8, 2007 5:50:02 AM PDT
I disagree that Walls siblings are not successful. All are productive members of society with no (reported) drug or alcohol problems. Most people from such a situation end up in jail, on the streets, or dead. I think the fact that they all survived is their triumph. If you disagree, you probably never had to work as hard for success as Walls.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2007 8:02:59 AM PDT
No Man says:
I do not think that, if they applied, this family would have been eligible for financial assistance -- remember, all along, the mother owned close to a million dollars worth of real estate, something Social Services would have eventually found out if they applied for welfare.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 10, 2007 6:47:54 PM PDT
Amanda Jones says:
Do some research on the author, there is an interview on a site from 2005 and it is very long and detailed. She addresses the comment "people like these should not have children" and says something like when people say that, it's like saying she shouldn't have been born. Look up that interview and I guarantee that it will answer at least some of your questions.
And to address what someone said earlier about them not being successful because they didn't have children is an ignorant statement. Coming with someone who dealt with infertility for 10 years, and it is a heriditary issue, so it could be that none of the women were able to conceive, or maybe worried that they make take on some of their parent's characteristics.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 11, 2007 2:14:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 11, 2007 2:21:14 PM PDT
Dawn Bowes says:
Thanks to "A Customer" on July 3rd who said what I thought about the book. I was actually grateful for the author not "bashing" her parents anymore than was necessary. I haven't stopped thinking about the book since I read it months ago -- as it seemed to mirror my own life, with the exception of what you pointed out the parents "tried" to do with their children, i.e., sharing the classics, engaging with their children in all sorts of creative ways and "dreaming" with their kids. I was very moved by this book and appreciated the author's style of telling us her story, without the blaming, whining and complaining. Thanks for seeing it the way I did (and probably the way the author intended her story to be seen).

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2007 9:22:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 14, 2007 9:23:42 PM PDT
Glass Castle was the first book I have read in a long time that I simply couldn't put down.

Walls' memoir was complex, compelling and thought-provoking. My initial reaction was one of disgust and anger at her parents. It is inconceivable to me that two people who were obviously intelligent could allow their children to live in such deplorable conditions.

Obviously Roy Walls was an alcoholic. At that time in the U.S. many small communities had a "town drunk" and it wasn't given much thought. (On TV, the small town of Mayberry, had a town drunk who slept if off from time to time at the jail.) As our small communities have become larger and there are more people involved in alcoholic rehab and AA, Roy might have received help. I think Roy regretted failing his children but couldn't overcome his alcoholism.

I suspect Rose Mary suffers from a mental illness. She believes the term of her pregnancies was 14 months. She is educated but cannot manage to perform the functions needed to hold a teaching job. While her children went without food, water, and clothing, she owned land in Texas that was presumable worth a million dollars. Why did she feel that this land couldn't be sold and had to "stay in the family"? How did she develop this warped sense of priorities? I believe it is the mental illness that claimed her mind.

Jeannette Walls had a very short childhood as she quickly became the voice of reason and the adult in the Walls' household. She took on the responsibility for the other children and suffered guilt for not doing enough for her youngest sister, Maureen. It was not Jeannette's responsibility to care for Maureen but as an adult she grieves over not being able to save her from their parent's insanity.

It is certainly debatable why Maureen who spent most of her time with the neighbors is the least functioning of all the Walls children. She may suffer from the same mental illness that claims her Mother or being rescued by the neighbors gave her a sense that "someone" would always take care of her, or possibility the minimal contact with her parents and their living condition prevented her from developing the determination found in Jeannette and her older sister and her brother.

The reader could endlessly debate her parents and their influence on her life but in the end Jeannette Walls is an incredibly talented writer. I applaud her courage. At one time, she was ashamed of her past but she put that aside and wrote this unforgettable book. I am enriched for having read it.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2007 4:38:55 PM PST
The father tried to sell Jeanette into prostitution. What part of bad parenting don't you understand?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2007 2:45:36 PM PST
S. Kirzner says:
I read an interview with JW online about her book, and her husband had urged to write the story much earlier (almost 20 year) and it took her that long to gain the forgiving perspective. Just google jeannette walls, and just about the first thing that comes up about her is that article which is from some news source at msnbc.
The interview is illuminating.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2008 9:03:46 AM PST
Susan B. says:
Being the child of two alcoholics, it is true that they do a great deal of damage. However, as an adult coming to terms with my own upbringing (through the companion 12 step programs of Alanon and Adult Children of Alcoholics groups) , I, like Jeanette, chose to take responsibility for my own life and mental health, rather than living as a victim. You can live your life consumed with resentment, but as one wise person said, that's like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to suffer. Sooner or later you have to take charge of your own happiness.

No one is unidimensional; were Rex and Rosemary dreadful 'parents' (the word barely fits) whose right to parent their children should have been revoked many times over? Absolutely. Were they neglectful, narcissistic, addicted, mentally ill, passively and actively abusive? No question. BUT - they also loved their children (albeit in their own severely impaired way). Their father's brilliance and mother's artistry splashed onto their children (with the possible exception of Maureen, who never really got to benefit from this side of her parents because their diseases were so far advanced by the time she came along.). They did teach their children to love learning, to appreciate beauty, to embrace higher level thought, and to become who they were as individuals -others' opionions be damned. Rex's gift of a star when he had no money to buy a present was sad but incredibly loving and beautiful. Was this enough? Of course not. There is NO excuse for parental neglect and abuse. But Jeannette has done what anyone coming to terms with parents who fell down on the job must do if s/he is going to live his/her own life fully: embrace the WHOLE picture. The pain, the horror, as well as the gifts. Is Jeannette done with this process? Likely not. My guess is she'll spend the rest of her adult life processing the first half of her life little by little, and continue to get new insights on a regular basis for as long as she lives (if she stays open to the experience). She describes some of the horror of her life with a detachment often heard in stories told by abuse victims. The reviewers called her telling "sparse" (or something like that) - it works in this case for the telling of the story - my guess, though, is that there might be a lot more feeling yet to be embraced behind that spareness of language.

It's all grist for the personhood mill...

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 4, 2008 9:06:35 AM PST
Susan B. says:
Being the child of two alcoholics, it is true that they do a great deal of damage. However, as an adult coming to terms with my own upbringing (through the companion 12 step programs of Alanon and Adult Children of Alcoholics groups) , I, like Jeanette, chose to take responsibility for my own life and mental health, rather than living as a victim. You can live your life consumed with resentment, but as one wise person said, that's like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to suffer. Sooner or later you have to take charge of your own happiness.

No one is unidimensional; were Rex and Rosemary dreadful 'parents' (the word barely fits) whose right to parent their children should have been revoked many times over? Absolutely. Were they neglectful, narcissistic, addicted, mentally ill, passively and actively abusive? No question. BUT - they also loved their children (albeit in their own severely impaired way). Their father's brilliance and mother's artistry splashed onto their children (with the possible exception of Maureen, who never really got to benefit from this side of her parents because their diseases were so far advanced by the time she came along.). They did teach their children to love learning, to appreciate beauty, to embrace higher level thought, and to become who they were as individuals -others' opionions be damned. Rex's gift of a star when he had no money to buy a present was sad but incredibly loving and beautiful. Was this enough? Of course not. There is NO excuse for parental neglect and abuse. But Jeannette has done what anyone coming to terms with parents who fell down on the job must do if s/he is going to live his/her own life fully: embrace the WHOLE picture. The pain, the horror, as well as the gifts. Is Jeannette done with this process? Likely not. My guess is she'll spend the rest of her adult life processing the first half of her life little by little, and continue to get new insights on a regular basis for as long as she lives (if she stays open to the experience). She describes some of the horror of her life with a detachment often heard in stories told by abuse victims. The reviewers called her telling "sparse" (or something like that) - it works in this case for the telling of the story - my guess, though, is that there might be a lot more feeling yet to be embraced behind that spareness of language.

It's all grist for the personhood mill...

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 12, 2008 11:30:18 AM PDT
they may have decided against having children because of their family history of alcoholism and mental illness.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2008 12:25:52 PM PDT
E. Weidman says:
E. Aretz,

What in blazes are you trying to say here...that the Walls girls did not have kids because they were too damaged? Since when does having kids measure one's mental stability or success in life? People with kids are OK, but childless people are not OK?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 8, 2008 9:59:48 AM PDT
Brutus says:
I agree....the mother was "just this side of evil"....completely irresponsible, selfish, and ego driven. This is an extremely strange and scary family.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 14, 2008 8:13:08 PM PDT
I agree that it is an extremely well written book. But, I totally disagree with your opinion that it is a cannonization of bad decisions. It is a story of survival- of the resilience of the Walls children. They pulled themselves out of the depths of poverty. Their dad was a damaged alcholic ( his mom was quite a piece of work) and the mom seemed to suffer from some sort of mental illness, either bipolar disorder, or she was a sociopath. The dad's behavior angered me, and the mom was intolerable- she was not a "free spirit" as one reviewer stated. Also, how could Jeannette refuse her dad when he wanted the money? He would have taken it anyway- he was sick. And, they were just children, the innocent victems of this sickness and chaos. Look at how they kept the money in the piggy bank and it did not seem to occur to them that their dad would still it.
Many of the posts mention the fact of the failed marriages of Brian and Jeannette, and the fact that only Brian had a child. Raised in that kind of enviroment, raised with that kind of uncertainty, it is surprising that they wanted to risk being in relationships at all.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 15, 2008 3:54:09 PM PDT
Lois McClain says:
Mr. Myers, perhaps you did not read my entire post. You seem to have focused on the part where I called the family "bizarre." While you may not like my choice of words here, I stick by my original post.
In spite of the sadness, poverty, illogical thinking, neglect, and poor decisions made by both parents, they also instilled a love of learning, literature, science, and art in their children. This is an amazing story and I found as I read the book, I did not want to put it down, even as I was forced to do by time constraints.
You seem to be questioning my ability as a therapist. Yet you do not know me, and know nothing about the kind of therapy I do and whether I am worth my salt. You will judge me from one comment I write? I see first hand the effects of poverty, neglect, abuse, incest and substance abuse on both children and adults. My goal is to help these people learn to trust themselves and live the kind of lives they want to have. Even though they have often had very sad childhoods, I believe in the power of the human spirit to overcome these things and still learn to live a good, happy, loving life.
Jeffrey Dahmer was also bizarre, or do you dispute that? No, I do not think there is any such thing as "normal" (myself included), but clearly there are healthy and unhealthy families.
I can't be sure, but I wonder if you have somehow been hurt by something someone said or called you. I am sorry if that is true, but please don't focus on one word I have said and take it out of context.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 2, 2008 3:10:11 PM PDT
Bookbug says:
I don't understand. Not having children is indicative of some kind of problem? Huh? Please clarify.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 18, 2008 9:47:08 PM PDT
I must add to the conversation about whether having children constitutes success. When a child is abused and neglected, they go one of two ways on having kids of their own --if they have them it is usually in order to have someone who will love them and if they don't have them it is mostly because they learned the lesson that their parents' unconsciously taught them: children are a horrible burden that make your life miserable.

I believe they are successful--I mean, by GOD, your dad pimps you out, steals your money, sabotages you your whole life, your mom gets fat, sits on riches and buys herself art supplies and typewriters while you starve and you figure out how to move to another state by yourself to be safe and grow up to be married, have a good career and are not insane, a drug addict or in jail? yes. successful by any measure.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 18, 2008 9:49:35 PM PDT
Wells is clearly an extremely intellectually curious person as evinced by anecdotes on almost every page in the book. I think that, as a journalist, she chose to tell just the facts and put it out there. Her refusal to condemn her parents is refreshing and honest in its own way. It also allows the reader to make their own call about what happened. A very intellectual approach.

Posted on Apr 19, 2009 9:59:50 AM PDT
I think people are off-base when they speculate that Jeanette is emotionally insincere when she recounts her life. They expect to find hot resentment at parental abuse. On the contrary, the book has the ring of honesty. This is due to a phenomenon called emotional 'distancing'. If one is the victim of abuse, one cannot submit one's mind to the constant and powerful feelings of resentment we might expect. This is especially true of children. It is in fact a defence mechanism which makes life bearable. This becomes a powerful habit, even after escape from the abuse has been effected. Emotional distancing permits escape, but it becomes a lifelong habit of mind. It was Maureen who was not able to achieve this emotional distancing, perhaps because her older siblings had escaped the nest. I would appreciate responses to these comments, especially from those who have experienced similar life experiences.

In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2009 7:53:22 PM PDT
K. Bunbury says:
I had to read the end once I was half way through. These kids were triumphant. The parents should not have had custody. There is big difference between teaching self reliance and child abuse. This was child abuse.

In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2009 7:58:51 PM PDT
K. Bunbury says:
I agree. These kids experienced total deprivation. The parents were oblivious. I get it that the parents were held up in the kids eyes, but they are child abusers none the less.

Posted on Nov 26, 2009 5:45:33 PM PST
EP says:
Good writers paint a vivid picture for their readers, and allow their readers to have their own feelings about the portrait. Jeanette Walls is a good writer. The book would have been much less effective if she had been an angry, resentful ranter. Who knows, maybe she feels that way in her personal life, but she allows us as readers to come to our own conclusions. As a child of a home where my physical needs were taken care of but there was emotional abuse to the point of threatened murder while looking down the barrel of a gun, I can't personally say that one type of abuse is better, or less worse, than the other. The brilliance of Walls' book is she leaves the reader struggling with questions. Such as, would the kids REALLY have been better off in foster care? (And don't answer that unless you have some notion of how the foster care system chews kids up and spits them out.)

Posted on Dec 22, 2009 12:54:33 PM PST
J. C. Smith says:
As I am listening to the audio version of this book, I am also reading these posts. This family was not necessarily abnormal, abusive, (or abused) or neglectful (or neglected). They simply lived a life different than some. How many people actually know what normal is? We are such a prejudice society, scorning anything or anyone different from what we know. I think it is time we all acknowledge that normal is defined by our own experiences. What is "normal" to you may not be "normal" to me. If we'd just acknowledge our differences, then maybe society would be a bit kinder. Look up the term "cultural model."

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 21, 2010 7:40:55 PM PST
I think the post by E. Aretz is unfair. The author clearly limits the information in the book to the facts of her own life, especially once they move to New York where she only gives the broad outlines of her sibling's lives. For example, you seem to be implying that Brian's early retirement is somehow shameful, but remember, (if i am calculating the years correctly) he was a New York City police officer on 911. My guess is that neither divorce nor career changes are unusual for police officers who lived through that.

I read an interview with the author where she said he is now getting his teaching certificate. As others have said, given their upbringing, it is incredible that they are functioning, productive members of society.

Posted on Feb 26, 2010 11:57:29 AM PST
It never fails to amuse me how psychotherapists view the world through the narrow chink of their school of thought. Life must fit into their theory, not vice-versa. If we must engage in speculation about why Lori didn't get married, etc., then are many other possible explanations. As indicated in my review of the book, I went to Welch High School with Jeanette and remember her well. If memory serves me, Lori was a Senior, when I was in 8th grade. As the Jr. High School was adjoined to the High School, I remember seeing her 'round school, as well as 'about-the-town'. Let me say this. Lori was "pudgy", had curly, red hair and a face-full of freckles...my point is that she wasn't physically attractive. I don't know that this is the reason why she didn't get married (I am not proposing a self-certain 'totalizing' theory, like the psychotherapsts ) and for all I know, she may have lost weight and made herself more attractive as an adult. My argument is not that I am right (after all, you don't have to be a beauty queen to get married), but that her looks are as likely a cause as the convoluted "family" theories of pop-psychology. There are many other possible explanations already discussed, such as the fact that a lot of people in developed post-industrial countries are choosing not to marry and have children for personal reasons. Despite what our psychotherapists would have us believe, behavior that does not mimic their theories is not necessarily pathological.

Without denying the Walls' neglect, one must still call into question the psychotherapeutic family model, which seems to be based upon "Brady Bunch" reruns. How many of you psychotherapsts have had a childhood as rich as Jeanette's?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2010 1:03:48 PM PDT
S. moran says:
I completely agree with you. Children-and adults-often intellectualize trauma so they can avoid the pain. To admit how much it hurt would unleash a pain too great to bear. So you have to be strong to deal with your emotions. I feel that writing this memoir was a therapeutic event for the author. She tells the facts and leaves it at that. It may be that future books will reveal some of the emotions she has suppressed over the years. I applaud her ability to endure what she did.
[Add comment]
Add your own message to the discussion
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Prompts for sign-in
 


 

This discussion

Discussion in:  The Glass Castle
Participants:  46
Total posts:  57
Initial post:  Sep 21, 2006
Latest post:  Mar 1, 2012


Search Customer Discussions
This discussion is about
The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (Mass Market Paperback - 1990)
4.6 out of 5 stars (5,277)