READ: Jeannette Walls

My sister visited last week, and while she was here we went to a talk by Jeannette Walls at the Point Loma Nazarene Writer’s Symposium. Walls wrote the 2006 NY Times Best Selling memoir “The Glass Castle” – I feel like I may be the only person who hasn’t read it. She was gracious, warm, inspiring, and authentic in the discussion. I wanted to have a cup of coffee with her and keep the discussion going. Storytelling comes naturally for her, and the coolest part is that she knows that she has been given a beautiful gift.

Walls said a lot of things that resonated with me and I filled 4 pages in my notebook. She kept repeating that we don’t have perspective on our own story – because we are a part of the story we don’t realize the amazing stories that each of us have. Write it down, be honest, and a unique story will emerge. All stores are different because “People can agree on facts, but not how it happened.” Being honest liberated her.

Walls had a horrible, “wacky” childhood (as described in detail in “The Glass Castle”), however she is not bitter or broken. Her bad childhood put everything in perspective and she never takes her life, or a meal, for granted. The interviewer at the talk asked her if she had forgiven her parents, and Walls said that she did not need to forgive them. They did the best they could, and if she forgives, she sees herself as a victim. She chooses not to see herself as a victim. She said, “Love of education and self-esteem can get you through anything.” Her parents, with all of their faults, gave her those two things.

I felt like the discussion with her continued over the last week because I listened to her novel “The Silver Star,” on CD and she reads the story. I am not sure I would have liked the book if it was narrated by someone else. Since I had just been to her talk , I felt like she was in the car telling me a story while I drove on my commute. This is the first fiction novel by Walls, and she said in her talk that there were a lot of grains of truth in it.

The narrator of the story, Bean Holloday, reminded me of Scout from “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Bean is all spunk and sass. “The Silver Star” explores small town life, messed-up families, the bonds of sisters, and the potential dangers of standing up for what is right.

I am so excited about two books that are coming out that I am adding to this reading list.

  • My father-in-law introduced me to Tom Robbins and “Jitterbug Perfume” when I was 18. I LOVED that book, I still do. There were only three things I liked about my freshman year of college at Michigan State University: my roommate, working at the Wharton Center and seeing free plays, and reading ALL of Robbins books over and over. I highlighted the crap out of those books. Robbins has a memoir coming out called: Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of  an Imaginative Life. I can’t wait to read it!
  • The final book in the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness comes out in a few months. It is called The Book of Life, and if you have not started the series and you like believable stories about vampires and witches you should start reading now. The series reminds me of Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witch Series – which I think is her best work.
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