by Jeannette Walls
Read May 2009 finished May 14
I read this because it's one of the choices for Tates Creek High School's summer reading list. I'm going to lead a discussion of this once school begins in August.
I only chose it because it looked the most interesting of the group. I wasn't thrilled about it.
I think the opening paragraph caught my attention. Jeannette is riding in a taxi through the streets of Manhattan. She lives in a Park Avenue Apartment and is on her way to a fancy party. While stopped at a stop light, she looks over to see a woman rooting through a trash can. It's her mother.
That caught my attention. What happens after that chapter sucked me in and kept me going. This is a memoir. A true story, although many people in Amazon's comments don't believe her story. But it's about her family's nomadic, countercultural lifestyle. Her dad, Rex Walls, is a thinker, a philospher, an inventor, a fun dad and a drunken no goodnik. The lifestyle he forces on his family is both a gift and a curse to them. The children, for the most part, grow up to be creative, intelligent adults.
It was difficult to decide whether I liked Rex for his romantic notions and amusing ideas or despised him for the neglect and subtle abuse of his children.
Rose Mary Walls, the mother, is not much better. But she is a ditzy artist who follows whatever her husband says and does and doesn't have the strength to give her children a better life, even when her kids are living in the worst poverty imaginable in West Virginia.
This was a very good, thought provoking read. Was it all true? I have no idea. Ireally don't care. It read like a novel and it was fascinating, funny and sad all at the same time.