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Growing up in poverty, learning about it secondhand..

I have loved The Glass Castle (the book), and watching the movie come to life (it is so good!) is pretty incredible. They are ALL good actors, every one of them.

If you haven’t read the book (it’s a non-fiction, true life memoir), or seen the movie, go and do both then come back and read this post.


There are obvious good parts to it that I see to the movie.

Like the creative, imaginative part

For instance, their parents were obviously very creative and living an alternate lifestyle with no cares or dreams to being conventional — this is both good and bad because you can be a dreamer but you better be grounded a little to offset those dreams.

I do this as much as I can with Little Bun. I make up stories, I think of interesting characters, and when he says things that don’t make sense, I tell him that is one way of seeing it creatively, but another would be that it is like this….

I don’t squash his dreams or his imagination — if he wants to pretend he is a hedgehog or a puppy, and his hands are baby dolphins named Dot and Dash, I am going to play along and encourage him to come up with stories.

Like the idea of an alternate lifestyle

Also, with this idea of an alternate lifestyle, it is good to not be so conventional.

They didn’t grow up consumerist because their parents had no money so they just made up their own games and seem to be pretty good kids in the sense that they were forced to grow up and be adults in the absence of their parents being adults.

And now for the bad parts.

Their parents could not help themselves…

Their mother was unable to leave her drunken husband to take care of her 4 kids.

This is not something I am saying is her fault, but she was unable to muster up that courage to leave to be able to help her own kids — this is something I read a lot about as being an issue in women with low self-esteem, self-worth and there is a bit of Stockholm Syndrome with the abused unable to leave the abuser.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Her father was unable to stop drinking and to help himself out of that mess as well — again, it is a powerful drug, alcohol, and being addicted is something that is difficult to judge unless you have been in their shoes (which I have not).

They didn’t seem to have much support from anyone else.

These kids had to grow up FAST to be mini adults, to take care of each other …. it’s all so real that I hear my mother’s voice in my head repeating the same stories with just a few details changed.

It is so sad. It really is.

Hearing them vow to each other that they will go to school, work hard, and get the heck out of this lifestyle when they’re old enough is sad to hear coming out of the mouths of babes.

At least they helped each other.

My mother said that her siblings were split….

Half of them helped each other (my mother and her closest sister for instance), and the other half would beat the other half up to get them to give up their share of the food to be able to eat more.

Like animals.

Then in other scenes, I see these kids starving, not having eaten for 3 days, and I know this is terrible but my first two thoughts were:

My goodness they look healthy for having been starved….

My mother was skinny as a stick. You could see in the photos her bones all over her body. She looked sick.

She looked like those models in the 90s when Heroin Chic was in (and gross, to be honest).

…and they have a lot of energy for being half starved.

My mother said when they didn’t eat for days, they had no energy. They just lay down on their wine crates (those were their beds), and tried not to let the occasional rat that came by, bite them.

They had no energy. These kids were half starved but digging holes and running around? C’mon now.

Overall, this is a story I think many can relate to. And that’s kind of sad if you think about it.


  • Jamie

    I’ve read the book but haven’t watched the movie and TBH I’m not sure if I can. I had such visceral reactions to the abuse (particular sexual) reading the book so I don’t know I can handle the movie, maybe those parts aren’t in the movie?

    I think they would do things to try and take their minds off their hunger. Sitting around being bored will just amplify those thoughts. I find when I’m bored I think about food even when I’m not hungry, but yeah, energy levels would definitely be lower and how they did well in school too, studies have proven that children do more poorly in school when they are hungry.

    However, I’ve never been in this position even remotely (which is a huge privilege) so its hard for me to judge one way or the other. That said, one of the best book’s I’ve ever read and I think everyone should read it to gain some perspective on life and the challenges that some people have gone through and persevered.

  • PP Gal

    I read the book but I haven’t watched the movie; nonetheless, I keep on reading. Can’t help it.
    I finished the book in a week the fastest so far, next to To Kill a Mockingbird. (That was a good start that I think I can accomplish my GoodReads Reading Challenge this year.)

    Still, I can’t believe that what I read is not a fiction. But I’m glad things workout fine for most of the kids. OK. No more spoiler. Glass Castle is now one of my favourite memoirs along with Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. Both have some similar struggles and success. Read it if you haven’t. And watch the movie (talking to myself).

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