Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Glass Castle

The plan was to read Half-Broke Horses next. Then I found out Jeannette Walls had written another memoir first, and since I like to read books in order, I quit HBH about 20 pages in, and picked up The Glass Castle.

I honestly didn't know if I should laugh or cry, be horrified or amused.   Jeanette Walls takes us on a journey through her childhood that makes her readers feel as if we are on the journey with her.  Rose Mary and Rex Walls are the parents of 4 children, and it's a miracle those kids survived into adulthood.  Rex was an alcoholic whose money-making schemes almost always resulted in the family having to sneak out of town in the middle of the night.  Rose Mary has an interesting outlook on life, but has never grown up.  She's more concerned with not wanting to prove her mother right than she is with the welfare of her children.  I hated Rex and Rose Mary for the way they neglected their kids, but as I read how their lives turned out, I realized that I had inexplicably fallen in love with them.

Jeanette and her sisters and brother are an intelligent, resilient, and admirable group of people who survived incredibly depressing childhoods.  I have a feeling that The Glass Castle is just a quick overview of what their lives were like growing up, and they could each fill an entire library with their stories.

Read the book, thank your parents, and hug your children.

Up Next: Suite Francaise

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sarah's Key

My God. That is the one thought went through my head over and over during the three hours it took me to read Sarah's Key.  This is by far one of the best, and possibly the most heart-wrenching stories I have ever read, and it was impossible for me to put the book down till I had finished it.

This book is not a historical work, and the characters are fictitious, but the events are based on real events that took place during the summer of 1942 in France.  It begins on July 16/17, 1942 in Paris when 10-year-old Sarah is brutally forced from her home with her mother and father.  Her 4-year-old brother is spared only because he is able to convince Sarah to lock him in their secret cupboard.  Thinking they'll only be gone for a few hours, she promises to come back for him before nightfall.  He has his teddy bear, flashlight, book, and enough water to last him several hours, maybe even a day or two.

Then there's Julia, an American journalist living in Paris with her French husband and their daughter.  When she is assigned to write a piece about the Vel' d'Hiv Roundup, she uncovers a dark secret her father-in-law has been keeping for 60 years.

Sarah's Key bounces back and forth between Sarah and Julia until their two worlds collide, and it makes you hunt for the same closure that Julia is searching for.  This is an excellent book, and my praise can do it no justice.

Up Next: The Glass Castle