This is not a book with a wonderful story or a great way or writing by the author, but it amazed me because it is and autobiography and, after reading it, you just wonder how Jeannette and her siblings are still alive.
This is a story about Jeannette’s childhood; she hasn’t got conventional parents and sometimes it looks like the children look after their parents and not the opposite.
Rex, the father, is a man that had worked a lot, can do a lot of things, and he finds a job in every place they live, but the problem is he loses all of them because he is an alcoholic. Not in the way we used to think, with violence and abuse, but just spending the money the family needed for living. The mother, Rose Marie, is like a hippy: she only thinks about painting and becoming famous with her paints. She doesn’t want to work although she has a degree in education to work as a teacher and she is perfectly capable of.
The family had to move very often; when the creditors know their address, they had to run away. They lived in small countries, in caravans or shacks and, sometimes, they slept in the car. For many months a year, the only money they earned was from the social services, and the children, Jeannette and her brothers, were always dirty, with old clothes and without pens and notebooks at school. But their parents didn’t care a lot about it.
An especially hard situation happened when, at a time when Rex was unemployed, the parents hadn’t enough money to buy food and the kids had to look for leftover food that other students threw in the trash at school. Some situations were just incredible, as you see, and you feel angry with the parents because most of them could have been easily avoided.
The end is as amazing as the rest of the story since we know that Jeannette is a popular journalist now and she has written two books so far, and far from hating her parents, she loves them without judging or justifying their behaviour. She tried hard to get what she wanted – her studies, her carreer – even when she could not have any help from her family. Could you do the same?
Jeannette Walls has also written a novel about her grandmother, Rose Marie’s mother, titled Wild horses. As this one, it is absolutely recommended. And once you have read both books, it’s impossible not to wonder why Rose Marie acted like that if her mother was so determined and hardworking woman.
My Spanish review here.