Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

An Interview with Jeannette Walls 'The Movie Captures the Light, the Dark and the Triumph.'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

An Interview with Jeannette Walls 'The Movie Captures the Light, the Dark and the Triumph.'

Article excerpt

Growing up an only child in a family that loved books so much there was a limit whenever we went to bookstores, I rarely found one that might cause my mother concern. However, she didn't want me to read the summer assignment for my high school sophomore English class, "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls. She objected to the graphic molestation scenes. But because it was required reading, she wanted to discuss those scenes with me to ensure that I not only intellectually, but emotionally understood the meaning of what I was reading because I was so young.

Ever since its publication in 2005, "The Glass Castle" has created controversy among parents.

In her memoir, Ms. Walls details the good and the bad of her nomadic life with her alcoholic father and free-spirited mother that finally landed her in Welch, W.Va. Growing up in poverty and squalor with dreamer parents, Ms. Walls writes of how she transcended the dilapidated shack on Little Hobart Street and ended up in a luxury apartment on Park Avenue in New York City with a job writing for MSNBC.

However, her ascent in life was riddled by sexual abuse, the effects of her father's alcoholism and her mother's determination to become an artist at her children's expense. Ms. Walls describes all of this through raw language and graphic detail.

As a result, her memoir has sparked national dialogues about child care, substance abuse and the memoir's appropriateness in school curriculum.

One such dialogue has stayed with Ms. Walls since 2015, when a parent of a student at a wealthy high school in Dallas petitioned to have the book removed from its reading list.

"It was fascinating because other students and parents stood up and said, 'We need to read this and understand what other people from other backgrounds are like,' " said the author by phone last week from Philadelphia, where she was promoting the film. "When I came and spoke to their school, the students were so smart and empathetic."

After her speech, students came up to her with stories of their own.

"It was eye-opening to me because, even though they had money, I learned that having money doesn't insulate you from identifying with my story because substance abuse and creepy uncles are universal issues," said Ms. …

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