The Portsmouth Book Club August - The Glass Castle

The August book selection is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:

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.

From Publisher's Weekly:

Starred Review. Freelance writer Walls doesn't pull her punches. She opens her memoir by describing looking out the window of her taxi, wondering if she's "overdressed for the evening" and spotting her mother on the sidewalk, "rooting through a Dumpster." Walls's parents—just two of the unforgettable characters in this excellent, unusual book—were a matched pair of eccentrics, and raising four children didn't conventionalize either of them. Her father was a self-taught man, a would-be inventor who could stay longer at a poker table than at most jobs and had "a little bit of a drinking situation," as her mother put it. With a fantastic storytelling knack, Walls describes her artist mom's great gift for rationalizing. Apartment walls so thin they heard all their neighbors? What a bonus—they'd "pick up a little Spanish without even studying." Why feed their pets? They'd be helping them "by not allowing them to become dependent." While Walls's father's version of Christmas presents—walking each child into the Arizona desert at night and letting each one claim a star—was delightful, he wasn't so dear when he stole the kids' hard-earned savings to go on a bender. The Walls children learned to support themselves, eating out of trashcans at school or painting their skin so the holes in their pants didn't show. Buck-toothed Jeannette even tried making her own braces when she heard what orthodontia cost. One by one, each child escaped to New York City. Still, it wasn't long before their parents appeared on their doorsteps. "Why not?" Mom said. "Being homeless is an adventure."

We had a great night as always for the discussion of Ballad of the Whiskey Robber by Julian Rubinstein.  Thanks to everyone who came!  My review:  Ballad of the Whiskey Robber.

The other books nominated this month were:

Heft by Liz Moore

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

1491 by Charles Mann

One Day by David Nicholls

 

 

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  • Bette

    Thank you Leslie .....

    August 15, 2013

  • Bette

    Someone was pitching a book ......something Claudette ?? I would like to read this book but cannot remember full title or author? Can someone help me ?

    1 · August 15, 2013

    • Leslie

      It was called "Where'd You Go, Bernadette" by Maria Semple. Great reviews on Amazon.

      August 15, 2013

    • Rebecca

      I listed all of the books that were pitched here: http://www.meetup.com...­ At the bottom.

      August 15, 2013

  • Monik

    It was a great meetup. I was amazed by all the passion that this book brought out. Look forward to reading the next book and hearing the different perspectives.

    2 · August 15, 2013

  • joanne

    Wow, I knew it was going to be a big discussion but didn't think it would be so heated. I mean heated in a good way. I was just dumbfounded by these people who ended up raising some pretty strong survivors.

    2 · August 14, 2013

  • Dianna

    Nice to meet everyone. Lively discussion! Looking forward to next month's book and group discussion.

    2 · August 14, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Can't come until September but please keep me in mind looking forward to meeting new people.

    August 12, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Our September selection is up!

      August 14, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Can't come tonight but the book selection was great!

    August 13, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Hope to see you next time! :-)

      August 14, 2013

  • Sean D.

    Dinner at the library first anyone?

    August 13, 2013

    • Sean D.

      I'll be at the bar.

      August 13, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Next time! Let's make it sushi beforehand!

      2 · August 14, 2013

  • Anna

    knee hurting too much to make the drive

    August 13, 2013

    • Rebecca

      I hop you feel better!

      August 14, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Or "hope" rather. I hop too.

      August 14, 2013

  • Craig

    That was a great meet up! Lots of new faces, some really interesting discussions and perspectives. A lot of emotion and passion behind much of it! Always good to hear someone's take on something and then discover that there's a whole different way to consider things. Good stuff!

    2 · August 14, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Pretty refreshing to hear from people who didn't exactly "gush" over the book, but - in fact - had strong opinions in the other direction. I love to hear the varying opinions! And learn from them!

      August 14, 2013

  • Cynthia

    Interesting book, lively discussion, what a fun evening, I am so glad to have found you all!

    2 · August 14, 2013

  • Monik

    Took me a while to get into the book but now that I am done, I am really looking forward to hearing what others thought.

    1 · August 11, 2013

  • joanne

    Cannot wait to talk about this book. Finished it last week....

    1 · August 9, 2013

  • Cynthia

    I have been toying with the idea of joining a book club for ages! Looking forward to sharing this experience.

    1 · August 5, 2013

  • joanne

    My goal is to read this book...I have it in my closet and there is no excuse...

    1 · July 27, 2013

  • Monik

    I have just moved to Hampton from Montreal and I am looking forward to meeting people that enjoy interesting books. See you soon. Monik

    1 · July 18, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Great! We would love to have you!

      July 24, 2013

  • Nancy

    Im looking forward to meeting the group. I have already read the book, found it interesting and look forward to hearing other perspectives.

    1 · July 21, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Hope to see you there!

      July 24, 2013

  • MARSHA R. R.

    How are the books selected? I enjoy reading a variety of books.

    1 · July 23, 2013

    • Rebecca

      Those who attend the discussion get to choose the next book!

      July 24, 2013

  • James

    I would love to be a part of the club but have decided Portsmouth will be far to travel. Thank you!

    July 16, 2013

  • Ben S.

    Just getting started on this book (like it so far), and I keep thinking "Oh, wow, I can't wait to hear what people have to say about *this*." :-)

    1 · July 16, 2013

  • Bob L.

    Hi Everyone, if you look under More -> Files I uploaded a file there that has a list of all of the book we've read so far.

    1 · July 10, 2013

  • Craig

    Barnes and Noble's web site has this book listed as $2.99 in paperback. I think shipping is another $4 or so.

    1 · July 10, 2013

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Rafaël

We just grab a coffee and speak French. Some people have been coming every week for months... it creates a kind of warmth to the group.

Rafaël, started French Conversation Group

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