Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

Small novels are the perfect novels for long train rides to work. Even though I am tempted to take longer reads they are just way too heavy to carry when you need a free hand to hold onto a pole/bar. Anyway, this book was really good. For the simple reason that truth is often stranger than fiction. This is a memoir about a girl and her very unique and crazy parents. It's a wonder that she and her siblings are even alive and doing remarkably well now. There were two thoughts that came to my mind while reading this.

I am very blessed to have my parents. I know I don't acknowledge them enough though. Jeannette's parents basically leave their kids to fend for themselves, even though they always stay together as a family. Her parents' goals are not to provide them with the best they can offer them, but are just kind of there. There are several times where I think the kids take better care of their parents... It makes me wonder what is the "coddling line"? Parents cannot take care of every detail of their kids' lives, there has to be a point where they let go. I think a major goal of parents should be to teach their kids to be self-sufficient. It's something I don't often feel I know how to do. I don't blame my parents in any way of course; I think I am one of those people who needs to be "thrown into the water to learn how to swim". I never felt I learned to be somewhat self-sufficient until I was on my own in college and now working.  If parents or someone always takes care of you - when is the point that a person will learn to take care of him/herself?

The second major thought that occurred to me is poverty a choice or circumstance? Jeannette really tries as an adult to get her parents off the street (they are homeless), but they refuse. They actually like living on the streets. It's hard to believe but as I read that novel I understood why the characters felt that way. They are free-spirited and being constrained to a certain location and to daily mundane routines would never work for them. I see many homeless poor people while walking to work. They solicit for money, etc. Is it by circumstance they end up there - could there be no other option than to resort to begging? However there is one guy who is my favorite. He shouts "Good morning!" to everyone that walks by in a loud, cheery voice. I think he sleeps on the bench in that park every day but he is happy and he doesn't ask for a penny. Is he there by choice?

Poverty is not a passive event. Or is it? I am not quite sure after reading this book. 

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