The Glass Castle: A Memoir

The Glass CastleThe Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls – 2005

The Glass Castle: A Memoir is the true story of Jeannette Walls’  life beginning in the 1950’s at the age of three to adulthood.    She openly writes of the struggles she and her family suffered during her early years – severe poverty and unbalanced personalities.  In the end she is able to overcome and succeed as an adult, an ending not often achieved for children raised in a loving but dysfunctional family environment such as hers.   She is truly one of the lucky ones.

The Glass Castle won the 57th Christopher Award in 2006.  In addition in won the American Library Association’s Alex Award that same year.   It was on The New York Times Best Seller list for 261 weeks.

The book is written in four sections beginning with Section I – A Woman on the Street.  Jeannette is an adult and she sees her homeless mother on the street in New York.  She writes about how that makes her feel.  In Section II – The Desert she flashes back to early childhood.  She uses this section to build her characters through childhood experiences.  She speaks of incidents through the eyes of a child and you get the feeling that it’s not all that bad.   It is a very interesting story, sometimes funny and sometimes sad, and will keep you fully engaged.  Section III – Welch is about how her life changed when her family moved to Welch, a small mining town where her father grew up.  In this section there is a definite new way of thinking emerging.  Jeannette can no longer overlook her parent’s short comings, short comings that are becoming more and more obvious to her as she grows up.  Section IV – New York City ends with resolution.  Jeannette finds a place in society where she can excel and she seizes the opportunity.  Section V – Thanksgiving – The children, now all adults, reunite for a holiday meal with their mother (dad has passed) and reminisce about childhood adventures and the fun they shared.

The overall feeling at the conclusion of her book is that her parents loved her, that they were both very smart, but they could not cope with the rules of society.  She was able to overcome all the adversity faced in her childhood and young adult years.  It is her strength and determination that makes her story so riveting.

It is no secret how I feel about Jeannette Walls.  Her book The Glass Castles is one of my all time favorites.  I had the pleasure of meeting her at Writers In The Schools (WITS) in November, 2010 where she was the keynote speaker.

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Robin Davidson, Jeannette Walls, me – I’m the star struck one!

Her story was so compelling.  At the time, I was writing my own memoirs and her openness and honesty struck a cord with me.  It confirmed for me that writing the truth can set you free.  It is purging and I highly recommend it.

Now, to my surprise, I learned that her book is being turned into a movie.  Lionsgate has acquired the rights to the book and Jennifer Lawrence is scheduled to play young Walls in the biopic.  Needless to say, I’m looking forward to seeing it on the big screen.  If you haven’t read the book, you better get busy.  That’s it for now.   I’ve got to skedaddle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeannette_Walls

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The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry is a wonderfully written, well crafted science fiction/fantasy novel.  It is one of two books written by Lois Lowry that won the John Newbery Medal, the literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of ALA, to the author “for the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year.”  Her first novel to win this prestigious award was Number the Stars in 1990.   The Giver was her second, winning in 1994.  Ms. Lowry has written over thirty children’s books.  In her biography on her webpage she tells that most of her books revolve around the same general theme:  the importance of human connections, and what a fabulous job she does with that.  Her words smoothly weave through and around the lives of her well developed characters, describing feelings and emotion like no other.  In my opinion, she’s brilliant!

As the story The Giver begins we learn that for the first eleven years of his life, Jonas, our main character, has lived happily in a society free of confusion and uncertainties.  No one has ever experienced pain and suffering or love and loss.  It was a perfect world of equality and sameness; a very well organized controlled community.  At age twelve Jonas was assigned a job, one which was determined by the elders that he would be best suited.  It changed his life.

Jonas was to be the Receiver of Memory.  There was only one Receiver of Memory in the community and Jonas was to be trained as his replacement.  As a receiver in training, Jonas reported daily to his teacher, the Giver, whose job was to reveal and transfer memories to Jonas.  Through his training Jonas began to realize and understand that the perfect environment in which he grew up was not so perfect and that things needed to change.  But was that possible?

What should poor Jonas do?  Read the book and you decide.  This book gives great food for thought.

With all the movie craze over the Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies I’m not surprised The Giver is being made into a movie.  Yes, a movie, so if you haven’t read the book yet, get busy because it’s coming out August 2014.    I wait patiently to see the movie and I hope I’m not disappointed.  In the meantime, I think I’ll read the book again!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lois_Lowry

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newbery_Medal

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Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, M.D.

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Proof of Heaven 
by Eben Alexander, M.D.

During my annual physical, my doctor asked me how I was doing.  My response blurted out in the form of tears.  My three year old cat was dying and I knew it.  His lungs were filling with fluid and I witnessed him rasping and gasping for breath, something I was totally unprepared to see.  I felt quite helpless.  It seemed I would have to make a decision about his life situation soon.  Dr. Shaffer, the good doctor that he is, consoled me and suggested I read Proof of Heaven.  He said he didn’t know my feelings about God or life and the Hereafter but he recently read this book and thought it might help me so I rushed out and bought it.  I thought the sooner something helped me cope with my growing grief the better.  This is what I learned.

Proof of Heaven is not really a book about grieving but is about what there is to look forward to in the Afterlife – Heaven.  Author Eden Alexander is a scientist and neurosurgeon.  A man of his education knows all there is to know about the brain and its function, consciousness and better yet, sub-consciousness – just ask him.  At least that was his attitude until he had a near-death experience (NDE).

Dr. Alexander’s book is a recount of his journey while in a seven day coma brought on by what could only be diagnosed as E-Coli meningitis, a diagnosis he should not have recovered.  He did recover, miraculously without paralysis.  There was no explanation.  Unless you consider the following:  It was a miracle!  He had many people praying for him and it wasn’t his time to go.

Proof of Heaven weaves around Dr. Alexander’s memory of a place he encountered while in a coma to what was going on around him in the hospital regarding his condition, treatment, and prognosis.  He writes about his knowledge as a doctor and the facts as he knows them – the technical part of the book that I found to be a bit over my head, but the message came through loud and clear.  He took a remarkable trip and lived to write about.  A memory of an event that his scientific mind said could not happen – but it did.  Dr. Alexander went from non-believer to believer and according to his experience; the best is yet to come!

With regard to the situation with my cat, this book was a reassurance that there is a better place, a far better place than we can ever imagine after this life as we know it.   My cat will be happy there, and when my time comes, I’ll be very happy there, too.

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