Those reading this likely know something about this memoir, and recognizing you, I’ll keep this short. For those who don’t, Jeannette is one of four Walls children. Her parents maintained a nomadic lifestyle, roaming from town to town, across the Western United States before moving to the East Coast. Her father, Rex, was an alcoholic, who cannot hold a job or maintain enough money to keep his family properly sheltered and fed. Rose Mary, Walls’ mother, was an artist, who believed her children should be entirely self-sufficient. Despite often being hungry and dirty, Walls does not remember her childhood as completely dark and dismal. Her struggle is punctuated with moments of happiness and family togetherness.
For me, I think what most stood out was how familiar her story felt. Much like Jeannette, my Dad grew up in the Square States in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Like her, he also had a mother and father who were not all that interested in parenting. Early in the book, the author recounts a family car ride in which a sharp turn in the road leads to Jeannette rolling out of the car. I immediately remembered my grandmother telling my sisters and me about the time my aunt rolled out of the car. From that moment on, and despite the gender difference, I felt as if I were getting a window into what his life and childhood were like. He doesn’t talk too much about it, preferring to leave those memories relegated to the past. Also, given that my upbringing was so distinct, be it the advent of child safety everything to very active and involved parents (my Dad, despite being Caucasian, would readily describe himself as a Tiger-Dad), it was hard for me to imagine what he endured prior to reading this. So, having the chance with this book to hear what I would imagine to be a similar story, was very interesting.
For those of you who haven’t read this book, I would encourage you to do so if you get the chance. Also, if you need another reason, apparently Paramount is making this book into a movie, with Jennifer Lawrence starring as the author. No word yet on release date, but for those who like to read the book before the movie comes out, this might be one to keep an eye on.
Also, for anyone wondering, I have picked up yet another North Korea book – yes I know, not what you want to read reviews about, I promise I'll give it a rest for a while after this. However, once that it finished I’m eying Amanda Lindhout’s A House in the Sky (a memoir by a woman kidnapped and held hostage in Somalia) and Helene Wecker’s The Golem and the Jinni (well, this one’s a bit tougher to summarize, but let’s just say it takes place in New York around the turn of the century and brings together aspects of Jewish and Muslim religions in a magical / fable-esque story). I’ve also been highly anticipating S. by J.J. Abrams, but Amazon has been out of stock for months now. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to comment and let me know!