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Listening to the Silence

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The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls Jeannette Wells spent the first half of her childhood, with her parents and siblings on the move through the deserts of the southwestern United States. They would live in a location for a few months before packing up, often in the dead of night, and moving on. Her mother was an artist who hated rules and expectations, her dad was a brilliant man, but unfortunatley was more often than not drunk and out of work. After a couple "good" years in Phoenix when the money her mother inherited from her own mom ran out, they packed up and moved east to Welch, WV where her dad grew up. Things were even harder there. They lived in a three room house with no indoor plumbing and frequently no electric. You know it's bad when folks in an Appalachian coal mining community make fun of you for being poor. One by one all of the kids made their way to New York City and with the exception of the youngest, really made something of their lives, while their parents refusing help, eaked out a living first on the streets and finally as squatters in a run-down tenement building.

Jeannette Walls story was tragic, no question about it, but I didn't feel as much for her as I thought I would. Perhaps it's due to her journalism background, but the story was told very impartially with little emotional content. Occassionally you could hear the anger in her voice at some particular incident, but more often than not it was told with a plain, just the facts, type of voice. I think that a stronger emotional expression in the story would have helped take this book from an average memoir to something really special.