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One Book - 2007
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The Glass Castle

by Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.

Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town - and the family - Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.

What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.

 

 

 

Read more about The Glass Castle and Jeannette Walls...

Glass Castle reading guide MSNBC review
Read an excerpt from The Glass Castle Q & A with Jeannette Walls
An interview with Jeannette Walls Read about hunger among Middletown's children
New York Times review    
       
One Book is sponsored by: With additional support from:
Citizens Bank: Not your typical bank Logo

One Book Launched for Fifth Year  -  11/26/06

By ALICE CLAYTON

 

MIDDLETOWN - It's fast becoming a Thanksgiving weekend tradition in the city.


The announcement of the One Book, One Middletown selection by Mayor Sebastian Guiliano took place Saturday at Main Street Market as part of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce's Holiday on Main Street . 

 

The 2007 selection is "The Glass Castle" a memoir by Jeannette Walls.


"Last year's book was a really good one," Guiliano said, referencing "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult.


"In two sittings, I've gotten through half of (The Glass Castle)," Guiliano said. "I'm not going to reveal anything, but it's got me going.


This is the fifth year of the One Book, One Middletown effort, which is organized by the Rotary Club of Middletown in partnership with the city.


In addition, several community organizations have paired with the program and it has received corporate sponsorship from Citizens Bank and Broad Street Books.


According to Scribner books, a subsidiary of the Simon & Schuster publishing house, "The Glass Castle" tells of how "Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an 'excitement addict.' Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.


"Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town - and the family - Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Walls and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.


"What is so astonishing about Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.


"For two decades, Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor."
This year the committee was able to secure a visit to the city by the book's author to autograph books at Broad Street Books, Rotarian Kevin Wilhelm told the crowd gathered at Main Street Market.


"The Glass Castle " has received the American Library Association's Alex Award.


Previous One Book, One Middletown selections include "The Giver," by Lois Lowry in 2003, "Tuesdays with Morrie," by Mitch Album in 2004; "The Kite Runner," by Khaled Hosseini in 2005, and "My Sister's Keeper," by Jodi Picoult in 2006.


The majority of the One Book, One Middletown activities will be held in March and April.

©The Middletown Press 2006