Saturday, February 5, 2011

Book Review Number Two

You may be wondering if you missed Book Review Number One...and no, you are not losing your mind. I only came up with this idea AFTER finishing my second book club book of the year on February 2nd.  OH YEAH! I am sooo ahead of the game for this year! Doing well on at least one of my resolutions.
So, to back up a little, Book Number 1 was "The Weight of Silence" by Heather Gudenkauf, who just happens to be an IOWA author and lives in Dubuque! The story also takes place in Iowa and focuses on Callie, a 7 year old who hasn't spoken in 3 years. Her wacko dad decides to take her into the forest near their home, while at the same time her best friend also goes missing. I won't reveal the ending, but you wind up wondering if maybe her dad had something to do with the friend's disappearance. Dad just happens to be an alcoholic wife-beater so it doesn't seem too far-fetched that he could be capable of that kind of thing. The story is alternately told by the different characters, with each chapter being told from a different person's point of view. As a side note, one of my book club friends invited  Heather Gudenkauf to meet with our book club. She politely turned us down, and said she'd get back to us later. I'm not holding my breath.
Okay, on to Book Number 2! February's book (which I finished 3 weeks ahead of schedule, did I mention that?) was "Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls. This memoir about Walls' life tells the story of growing up with her (in my opinion) crazy, self-centered, abusive parents. I was SO mad at her parents while reading this book that I had to put it down at times and stop. Her parents were "free spirits" who didn't appreciate the reasoning behind holding down jobs or providing for their family. They moved around a lot, living in the desert, their car, the beach, and motels before finally settling in a shack in West Virginia. The kids were routinely hungry, so much that they ate margarine when there was nothing else in the house and went through the garbage at school just to have lunch. When they finally did inherit a real home from Walls' grandmother in Phoenix, it had termites and holes in the floor started forming. Luckily, her dad drank lots of beer so he could patch up the holes with his flattened beer cans. After leaving Phoenix, the family landed in West Virginia with Walls' paternal grandparents. It's at this point that one starts to understand why her dad is so insane. Hillbilly Grandma Erma is very abusive to anyone who gets in her way. The kids are so ostracized in WV, that as teenagers they make plans to go to New York City, which they do, but only after good old Dad steals the money they had saved up and spends it on booze. In NYC, Walls finishes high school and goes to college. She and her brother and sister actually make good lives for themselves, although one younger sister follows in her parents' footsteps. Walls' parents also move to New York and end up being homeless. She repeatedly tries to help them, but in one way or another, they refuse her help and live happily ever after on the streets.

The really disturbing part of the book is that it's fairly obvious that Walls' parents are very intelligent people. They just don't care for conforming to society. It is amazing to me that Walls and 2 of her siblings turned out to have such normal (and even successful) lives after starting out the way they did. So I guess in that sense there is a happy ending. I would recommend this book, but be ready to be disgusted!

Stay tuned for Book Number Three...coming in March!


  1. I haven't read the first book, but it sounds interesting. I have read "The Glass Castle," it is amazing that it is a true story. It is such a different life than what we could ever imagine!

  2. I read the Glass Castle, it did upset me to see how those children lived and what they went through. It was a great read and it kept you turning the pages.