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Old 11-26-2006, 02:31 PM
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BOOK DISCUSSION: The Glass Castle

The Book Discussion Group has chosen The Glass Castle to discuss. We'll keep the discussion in a separate thread from the one where we select the book.

Anyone is welcome to read the book and join in the discussion!
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Old 11-26-2006, 02:41 PM
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I loved the book, as I read it I felt so many different emotions, shock, rage, fear, uncertainty, anger, happiness, etc. This book actually helped me understand the homeless ppl a little better, although I do recognize not all homeless feel this way, I do know that many do. I also wondered how this girl managed to grow up to be what she is after being raised as she was, lack of food, friends, self esteem, security, money and so forth. I thought this was a great book.
Felicia
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Old 11-27-2006, 04:44 AM
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I read a lot of sociology books, and most recently several books on the homeless. This family follows true to form on how homelessness often happens and how they work to stay together regardless. I agree, Felicia, this book brought out a lot of emotions. In many ways I was very angry with the parents for their selfishness. I believe the mother may have suffered from manic depression (her extreme highs - painting, eating little, sometimes even holding a teaching position and her lows - not getting out of bed for days, constant sleeping, ignoring her children etc.) Their father, an alcoholic, was both brilliant yet selfish in his own ways as well - following his own pursuits often at the expense of his children's welfare (no food, money, not even a real job for more than a few weeks at a time it seemed yet spending what money they did have on alcohol or his "projects") I cannot imagine living under the conditions these children often lived under. I didn't understand the parents refusal to accept help (from social services, welfare etc.) though I do understand pride being the factor yet how can you not be angry at a mother who eats the last of the lard letting her children go hungry (lard??? how sad is that in so many respects) The parents often put their own needs and desires before those of the own children. It was hard to have empathy for the parents much less sympathy though I had that in abundance for the children.
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Old 11-27-2006, 07:40 AM
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Sammi1961: I was angry with the parents through most of the book. I just couldn't imagine being that kind of parent and not providing for my children. I was shocked that the kids would want to stay, but then it is the only kind of life they knew, and staying together was their security. I felt the mother was unbalanced also, I wondered if she was bi-polar? And the father I just didn't understand how he could be so intelligent yet so stupid/ignorant at the same time. He could have done something wonderful and meaningful with his life but he chose to drink it away. And at the end I was surprised how Maureen turned out, because she was the youngest and had it a tiny bit easier, yet she fell apart completely. I felt like her siblings saved her life by sending her away to CA and was surprised that she didn't get in contact earlier, and when she did.. it was w/her mother? Her mother of all people? Great book. So very thought provoking. I went out and bought 2 more copies to give as gifts.
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Old 11-27-2006, 09:59 AM
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Old 11-28-2006, 11:16 PM
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Hi -
Back after being off the forums for a few weeks. I did have a chance to read Glass Castle. After I started reading the book, I remembered seeing the author on one of the early am talk shows. At the time I was surprised how well adjusted she seemed and after reading the book, even more so.

I agree - I think the mom was manic. It is sad that people like that have wonderful talents that are wasted and have so little in the way of parenting or social skills.

Over the years as a teacher I saw some horrific situations that children were in and tried to help get some services for them. Besides pride, some of the parents feared that if they received any aid or help it would bring the authorities in who would take the children away. Despite being poor models as parents, I guess that in their own way they love their children. It is just hard for most to understand that kind of "love".

After reading a book like that, it makes one thankful for what we do have.

Take care,
Pippe
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Old 11-29-2006, 03:46 AM
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I wondered if despite all they went through the kids actually did have self esteem built into them by their parents? In a wierd way! Dad seemed to always be talking up the family and showing his pride in his daughter especially (except that horrific scene where he allowed her to be abused in the pool room). I think that somehow, the parents did instill a certain level of pride and value into their kids. I think it was a sad story and I felt 'heavy' reading it. I also looked into my own style of parenting to see where I could be seen to be not providing the best for my own kids. Challenging stuff.
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Old 11-29-2006, 05:20 AM
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I agree, the children did seem to turn out fairly well adjusted except for the youngest which I find interesting. She was much more sheltered from her family's living situation (often living with friends) yet she had the most problems and was the most dysfunctional as an adult. Do you think it could be because she was sheltered that she turned out the way she did? Amazing that the son became a police officer considering all the illegal activities his parents engaged in (skipping out on back rent, medical bills etc. among other things) And Jeannette going to college was in itself amazing though her mother was educated. I wonder if the youngest daughter was bi-polar as her mother seemed to be. And I wonder why the mother was never diagnosed with any mental disorder though I am sure it was in part due to lack of any kind of medical care. When you see the kind of environment their father came from (and the suspected sexual abuse he may have suffered at the hands of his mother), I think you can see the reasons for his alcoholism. It is just sad that a man with such a brilliant mind chose to waste his life rather than get help but again it may have been due to the times. If both parents had been able to receive and accept help of some kind, the kids might have had an easier life. But if they had had an easier life, would they have turned out so well? Or would they perhaps even accomplished more?
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Old 11-29-2006, 06:38 AM
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What bothered me a lot in the story was that the parents would have jobs, the kids would be doing well, going to school, eating everyday, own a few things, and then they'd have to leave because their Dad would start drinking, the Mom wouldn't work, and their world would shift again. I felt bad when she had to leave her rock collection behind and just small things like that, which seemed it was all they had to hold onto, were taken away. It was always a choice for the parents to make, to not work, and they knew the outcome, no food, move on, yet they chose it.
I realize that Maureen broke down after all the kids left/moved to NY, maybe all of her part of the story was never told and she had other issues and that was why she lost it.
Felicia
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Old 11-29-2006, 07:29 AM
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That was part of the story I did not completely understand either. Why was it when the family had to move were the children only allowed to take "one" thing. The family was constantly leaving behind many useful and well as many meaningful posessions. It seemed the family was constantly moving with nothing but the clothing on their backs. I know in a car they did not have much room with all the children and the parents but I can't see how household items would take up much room. And what about when their car broke down and they never went back at all to retrieve anything at all? I know Jeannette's father passed away but at the end of the book, her mother was still living. What happened to the house in the desert? What has happened to the land she owned? I know the house was looted at one point but it is still a structure and the land was still theirs. The book made me want to know more about what happened next.
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