The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
This memoir, that reads like a novel and should appeal to anyone who enjoys family drama, defies convention when it comes to predictability. Jeannette Walls grew up in a family of nomads. She and her three siblings were born in the west to a couple who were brilliant but ungrounded, to say the least. Her father, Rex, had the makings of a scientist but alcoholism and wanderlust kept him from settling in a job too long. Her mother, Rose Mary, was a college-educated teacher who hated teaching. She saw herself as an artist and free spirit. Jeannette was born in Phoenix, but the family lived in various parts of the dessert of Nevada and California – “doing the skedaddle” each time a bill came due or an unexplained theft was traced to the family. When Jeannette was 10 and life on the road had lost some of its appeal, the family settled in Rex’s hometown in West Virginia. Most of the time they had no money to buy food, heating fuel or warm clothes. By working together, however, the kids each left home in their teens, moving to New York City and supporting each other in their goals. Walls writes of her parents with affection and fond memory, despite the want and the fact that their father stole money from them to support his alcoholism. The unconditional love of this family is astonishing considering the grueling conditions in which they lived.