“The Glass Castle” is one of the best biographies I have ever read. It is the incredible story of Jeannette Walls, who by all accounts should have been seriously dysfunctional after her irregular childhood. Each of her parents were eccentric, to say the least. They were highly intelligent, and taught their children about things like art and astronomy, but lacked any sort of common sense in the area of child-rearing.
I cringed as I began reading of mishaps, dangers, and neglect. But intertwined with the dysfunctional stories were stories of happy times, moments of togetherness as a family, and unique ways of dealing with difficult situations. Jeannette managed to perfectly capture the valleys as well as the mountaintops of her childhood. What might have crushed her, made her the strong adult she is today.
“Mom, I saw you picking through trash in the East Village a few days ago.”
“Well, people in this country are too wasteful. It’s my way of recycling.” She took a bite of her Seafood Delight. “Why didn’t you say hello?”
“I was too ashamed, Mom. I hid.”
Mom pointed her chopsticks at me. “You see?” she said. “Right there. That’s exactly what I’m saying. You’re way too easily embarrassed. Your father and I are who we are. Accept it.”
“And what am I supposed to tell people about my parents?”
“Just tell the truth,” Mom said. “That’s simple enough.”