Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass CastleThe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've read the gushing and less than gushing reviews of The Glass Castle both here and on Amazon. I fall somewhere in between.

Walls' voice is funny but it's not original. Yes, she writes with a Southern accent (without writing in dialect). It's easy to read and enjoy.

Her story, however, breaks no new ground. She calls this a memoir. As such it should be relatively truthful. As a few reviewers have mentioned, the early act of a three-year-old boiling hot dogs defies credibility. Still, it's her memory and maybe it didn't happen at three but later. Or maybe she heard enough stories about it to "remember" it herself.

Her dysfunctional family, while entertaining, is just about as dysfunctional as Frank McCourt's family in Angela's Ashes. I found myself wishing the old man would skedaddle and never come back. An amoral alcoholic father who thinks nothing of pimping out the narrator was almost enough to make me stop reading.

What made me question whether this was a novel or a memoir came when I went to Google Maps to check on the house on Little Hobart St. Walls makes a huge deal over the house, how you had to climb rotting stairs, shinny out the back window to get up the mountain behind the house. Granted in Google Maps the house is as it stands today. Brick. No steep steps from street to rotting front porch. In fact the house is at street level. No mountain behind it.

I hoped for more authenticity. Not sure if I'll read anything else by Walls except maybe a novel.

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