Jeannette Walls is an American author. She is also widely renowned as a journalist, especially as a columnist for MSNBC.com. Her first book, The Glass Castle, is based on her life, specifically her childhood and the memories of the life her nomadic family lived.
Walls was Born in 1960 in Phoenix, Arizona. Her father was Rex Walls, her mother, Rose Mary. Walls grew up with three siblings: two sisters and a brother.
Jeannette Walls’ family had no real roots in any one place. They moved around for various reasons, visiting places like California, Nevada, West Virginia, Battle Mountain and Welch to mention but a few.
Walls remembers a time when her family was actually homeless; this was before her father finally went back to his hometown in Welch. There the family found a sense of normalcy living in their three-room house.
Though, routine’ is more accurate a description than normal’ because life in Welch brought with it a number of complications and problems. For one thing, the house they were staying in didn’t have plumbing or heating. And at one point, they actually had to fight a rat and snake infestation.
It is hardly surprising that Jeannette Walls chose to go to New York to live with Lori, her sister when she was just 17. It was in New York City that Jeanette eventually graduated high school.
She would eventually graduate from college in 1984, but only through her own resourcefulness and perseverance; Jeannette had to depend on grants, loans and scholarships to finish her studies at Barnard. She also spent a lot of time answering phones at a Wall Street Law firm before her studies were finally completed.
Jeannette Walls begun her professional life as a journalist. The Phoenix, a Brooklyn Newspaper, gave Walls her first shot in the journalism arena, Walls spending some time as an intern before graduating into a full-time reporter.
In 1987, Jeannette Walls began writing a column in New York Magazine called Intelligencer’. The column came to an end in 1993. Walls was also a frequent contributor to MSNBC.com, a gig she took up in 1998, this before choosing to focus all her efforts on her career as a novelist in 2007.
The author has made numerous contributions to news resources over the years, this including USA today. She has also appeared on The Today Show and The Colbert Report. Before talking the memoir that made her famous, Jeannette Walls wrote a book in 2000 (Dish: The Inside Story on the World of Gossip) that sought to explore the role of gossip in the media and politics.
Her first book The Glass Castle’ was a memoir that explored the difficulties she faced as a child as well as the joys she elicited from her dysfunctional family. The book was a critical hit and sold a healthy number of copies, this along with being translated into a number of languages.
Jeannette Walls has been the recipient of the Christopher Ward and the Books for Better Living Award.
+The Glass Castle
Jeannette Walls’ first book is a memoir that delves into a dysfunctional yet uniquely vibrant family. Exploring resilience and redemption, the book emphasizes Jeannette’s father, a brilliant and charismatic man that not only taught his children geology and physics but also captured their imagination.
But that was before he got drunk, and became so destructive and dishonest. Jeannette’s free-spirited mother rejected any concepts of domesticity and discarded the responsibility of raising a family.
In such an environment, the children had little choice but to learn to care for themselves, meeting their own food and clothing needs. Determined to protect one another, the children eventually make it to New York and their parents follow, struggling with homelessness while their children find prosperity.
The Glass Castle isn’t just a critical hit, it is very popular among readers, many of whom refer to it as a modern Fairy Tale of sorts. The perfect book for readers with little interest in non-fiction, Jeannette Walls thrusts fans into the driving seat of her life, giving them a first-hand look into the hardships of her past and her conflicting thoughts on her parents.
The memoir, while rosy and lighthearted in beginning, quickly grows dark, especially as Jeannette’s parents’ actions drag the children into destitution. You can tell that Walls still loves her parents and continues to remember her father for all the joys he brought to the family.
For most, The Glass Castle is definitely a good read, one you would be hard-pressed to criticize.
+Half Broke horses
Lily Casey Smith is Jeannette’s no-nonsense grandmother. At an early age, she was helping her father break horses, and by fifteen she set out for a frontier town to teach. This meant riding for several hundred miles by herself on her pony. She would eventually drive and fly, coming to run a successful ranch in Arizona with her husband, Jim.
Smith gave birth to two children, one of whom was Rosemary Smith Walls, Jeannette’s mother. Lily saw it all: tornadoes, floods, droughts, even economic depressions, and she survived them all, this including personal tragedy.
Lily faced all the prejudices as someone that couldn’t fit into the mold.
Half Broke Horses is the perfect book to read after The Glass Castle. If you ever wanted to know why Jeannette Walls’ mother didn’t seem to have any maternal instincts, this book gives you a keen understanding of the upbringing that informed her character.
The book is told from the perspective of Lily, Jeannette’s grandmother. While not quite as good as The Glass Castle, Half Broke Horses is, none the less, a very engrossing read primarily because Lily is so unforgettable.
The book allows readers to explore some interesting time frames and geological regions, and it travels through a number of eras, giving readers a glimpse of history from Lily’s perspective. A lot of the success Jeannette and her siblings achieved can be imputed to the character they inherited from Lily, her unwavering strength, and determination.
This book puts a lot of pieces together and only makes The Glass Castle that much more interesting to read. While it doesn’t excuse Rosemary’s (Jeannette’s Mother) actions, it puts some of her behavior into better context.
Books in order of publication
|Half Broke Horses||(2009)|
|The Silver Star||(2013)|
|The Glass Castle||(2005)|