Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Glass Castle (copy)

The earliest memory Jeanette Walls has is not pleasant. She is three years old, standing on a chair overseeing her hotdogs as they boil on the stove. Juju, the family dog stares at her in hopes of snagging a delicious treat. She caves in and jabs a juicy dog holding it over him to cool. As she bends over to serve him the hem of her dress connects with the burner and catches on fire.

“Frozen with fear, I watched the yellow-white flames make a ragged brown line up the pink fabric of my skirt and climb my stomach. Then the flames leaped up, reaching my face.”

“I screamed. I smelled the burning and heard a horrible crackling as the fire singed my hair and eyelashes. Juju was barking. I screamed again.”

At the hospital Jeanette received skin grafts from her upper thighs to cover the burns on her stomach, ribs and chest. Afterwards, the nurses wrapped her entire left side and attached her left arm to the bed post behind her. She remarked, “Look, I’m a half-mummy.”

The doctors and nurses quizzed her at the beginning. Where did you get all these cuts and bruises? How did you get burned? What are you doing making hotdogs by yourself?

She was confused. She thought, what is so hard about making hotdogs? You just boil water. It isn’t like there is some huge receipt you have to follow. She also wondered why it was important for her mother to oversee her cooking. She was quick to tell them, “Mom says I’m mature for my age and she lets me cook for myself a lot.”

After around six weeks in the hospital, Jeanette’s dad appeared in the hallway door. He told her they were going to check out, Rex Walls—style. He unhooked her arm from behind her head and gentle cradled her against his chest. He then took off for the door. A couple of nurses yelled at him to stop but he kept running.

At the curb, we were met by the rest of the family sitting in the Blue Goose as it idled. Dad yelled for Mom to scoot over because it was time to skedaddle.

As one reads The Glass Castle, many of Jeanette’s memories can be placed in the same “not pleasant” category. Yet, she is not bitter. And, although her story is sad, she writes because she needs to get it out. You will read because you need to find out.


Erica said...

this was such a powerful book! i'm glad you reviewed it :)

maggie moran said...

Thx Erica! We did book discussion on it yesterday and I had some ladies that rejected it for the language. Otherwise, three out of 15 who did not like the book, but I bet they read it cover to cover! ;D

Sharon said...

Wow, this sounds like an intense read. I've seen it but never picked it up.

Jeane said...

I liked this book so much I want to read her other one now, Half Broke Horses

maggie moran said...

Sharon! You have to read this! Every word! :D

Jeane, I was told that _Half Broke Horses_ explains a lot about the mother in _The Glass Castle_! Many of the participants in our discussion turned on the mother and said she had no redeeming quailities, but then someone suggested they read her second book that explains why the mother is the way she is. I got a blurb in my book and it starts off with a bang!

Erica said...

my mother-in-law (who is INTENSELY conservative, BTW) was actually reading this book over christmas and remarked to me that it reminded her of her childhood! i knew she had had an unconventional upbringing, shall we say, but i had no idea it was similar to poor jeannette's. so, you never know what you will learn about somebody when you connect over a book! :)

Nancy said...

We used this book in the English classes in the community college where I teach. It struck a nerve. If you have a chance to hear Walls speak, don't miss her. She has such a positive outlook. Very real!

maggie moran said...

Wow, Erica! And you have known your mother for how many years?!?

Nancy, that is exactly what the ladies wanted to do! Hear it from her! Great job!!!