Hi Bookies, we’re at the end and now I want to go back and re-read The Glass Castle to keep the story going. I’m constantly amazed by Lily’s resourcefulness. Is there nothing she can’t accomplish? Catching a wild horse, getting free gas on the way to and from Tucson, earning her college degree in two years, flying planes… It was touching that she made it back to see her dad right before he died; they clearly had a strong bond, and it’s fitting that Lily was able to do one final thing—promise to bury him at home—to give him peace of mind, just as she had done throughout her life. And of course, utterly ironic—and eventually convenient—that she drives a hearse to visit her dying father. After he passes away, Lily doesn’t spend any time grieving over him; did you think she would be more emotional about her dad’s death?
When Rosemary disobeys her mother and goes swimming with the Havasupai in the middle of the night, Lily loses her cool and beats her furiously in front of the two women from the Arizona Department of Education. Considering Rosemary’s generally mischievous and wild behavior, I found this a little shocking. Do you think Lily goes too far? Why do you think she gets so angry with Rosemary’s behavior? If Miss Pearl and Miss Finch hadn’t been around, do you think she would have punished her as violently?
I was a bit surprised that Lily and Jim decided to move to the city once they left the ranch. They’re such born-and-bred country people; they truly love the land and feel such a connection with animals and nature. Plus, they like making up their own rules and doing what they please. I guess they really were looking for a complete change. I found their perspective on city life fascinating, especially how the modern or convenient things they initially enjoyed—like having a radio—turned out to have a more negative than positive impact on their lives (hearing constant crime reports every day). It’s something we still hear today, how things like cell phones and e-mail are supposed to save us time and make our lives much easier, but end up creating more stress and work in the long run. Which “modern conveniences” in your life do you think are truly beneficial, and which do you wish you could get rid of?
When Lily thinks Jim might be cheating on her with the “office floozy,” she enlists Rosemary to spy on him. This was probably the one time in the whole book Lily does something I entirely disapprove of. It’s one thing to spy on your husband—which is somewhat questionable behavior to begin with—but to have his own daughter do the dirty work? When it comes to marital issues, especially if there are unfounded suspicions of cheating, I think children should be left out of the picture entirely. I thought it was unfair of Lily to even put the idea of Jim lying or being unfaithful into Rosemary’s head, even if she did try to cast the spying (‘investigating,” she called it) in a positive light. What do you think about Lily using Rosemary to spy on her own father?
In the final portion of the book, we get to hear about Rosemary’s courtship with Rex Walls, who ends up becoming her husband. Wow. All I can say is, Rex is quite a character—even more rambunctious, outrageous, and contrary than Rosemary. It’s no wonder she quickly becomes smitten with him; he provides the constant excitement and danger she craves. And it’s no wonder that Lily disapproves of him. Do you think that because Lily was so hard on Rosemary growing up—always trying to teach her lessons and drill common sense into her—she actually succeeds in driving Rosemary away? Does Rosemary marry Rex because he’s the opposite of Lily in many ways?
Thanks for reading along with me and sharing your thoughts, everyone—it’s been fun! And I have great news: The author, Jeannette Walls, will be answering your questions next month, so post them along with your comments below by next Wednesday, March 2. Personally, I would love to hear a favorite story about Lily that Jeannette remembers from her own childhood. And I’d also love to know: What was the most surprising or shocking thing Jeannette discovered about her grandmother while researching this book? Was there anything that was particularly difficult to write about?