Jeannette Walls begins her memoirs with a poignant moment as she rides in a taxi to an event in New York City, and spots her homeless mother digging through the trash bins. This memoir is one you will have trouble putting down. You will feel you are right there with Walls as you read through her growing years, as she survived a set of parents who, despite their intelligence, were barely able to care for themselves let alone four children. Walls' first memory is that of being on fire from trying to cook hotdogs, at the age of three.
Her father would rouse them in the middle of the night to "pull up stakes" and they would pack their meager belongings and head out to wherever they might end up. They were doing the "skedaddle", as her dad would say, to avoid the people who were after them. They moved from place to place, sleeping outside, in their car, in shacks in the desert towns of the southwest. Her parents chose not to keep the rare jobs they might find; her father's plan was to build a glass castle, her mother carried art supplies wherever they went. Eventually, they found their way to the Appalahian Mountains, where her grandmother lived. They ended up in a shack where the ceiling caved in from the rain and it was left that way until moss grew inside their house. The children were rarely fed and Walls lied to Social Services when they came to the door, to avoid being taken from her parents. Eventually, the four children, while they were still teenagers, found their way to their own lives, one by one, heading to New York City and joining each other, away from their parents, whom they loved, but with whom they had no food, shelter, beds, or bathrooms. It's a book of survival that you will not forget.