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Jeannette Walls

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By arashid17
Words 684
Pages 3
Acclaimed author Jeannette Walls sat dressed in designer clothes in a taxi on her way to a New York party. She looked out the window and saw her mother digging through the trash in the dumpster.
She slunk down in her seat.
"What am I supposed to tell people when they ask me about you?" Walls asked her mother later.
"Tell them the truth," her mother answered.
It was the pivotal moment Walls cites in her decision to write hermemior and this year's freshman common reader, "The GlassCastle."
Walls visited spoke to a packed John R. Emens Auditorium Wednesday night.
"I'm just a woman with a really weird childhood," Walls said at the beginning of her presentation. "But the telling of that story has greatly changed my life."
"The Glass Castle" is a memoir of poverty and homeless but also of dreams and self-esteem.
In it the memoir, Walls tells of being three years old, getting hungry and cooking herself hot dogs. She suffered third-degree burns while her mother painted in the next room of their trailer.
When Walls was 13, her father, an alcoholic named Rex, took her with him on a "business trip."
They went to a bar.
While Rex played pool, his daughter fended off sexual advances from the seedy men he gambled with. Walls writes that her complaints about the situation were stifled by the knowledge that they needed the money for food.
Despite the abundance of shocking stories in her memoir and her past, Walls' message to students and faculty Wednesday was one of hope.
"If you had told me several years ago that I would be going around having discussions about my life I would have thought that it would be nightmarish," Walls said Wednesday afternoon at a small gathering of select students and faculty in the L.A. Pittenger Student Center. "I was scared to tell my story. But I've learned that people are much kinder and smarter than I thought."
Walls said that just as it was a good thing for her to labor to tell her story, she believes it's important to find a silver lining in even the most difficult trials.
"The challenge is not to be defined by the hardships or difficulties you've encountered," Walls said Wednesday night.
She went on to tell of living in a shack with no heat or indoor plumbing and one day visiting a friend's house. At first she said was jealous to see his mother cooking breakfast on a coal stove; in the next she realized her own blessings when she saw the friend's father come down the stairs and smack him on the head for drawing a picture of a horse and wanting to be an artist.
"We might not have food and we might not have heat but my parents would never make fun of my dreams," Walls said.
Senior creative drawing major Mo Smith said it was a story she was able to relate to. She was able to attend the afternoon gathering to meet Walls in the L.A. Pittenger Student Center.
"I'm the first person in my family to go to college," Smith said. "We were all so poor; I thought I was smart enough to go but I'd never really fit in socially. So I loved this story. If Walls made better of her circumstances, and hers are way worse than mine, I think I can probably do it too."
The title of Walls' best-selling memoir comes from the Rexs' plan to strike it rich, then build his family a solar-powered glass mansion in the desert. Walls said that while you one could look at this as just another of her father's unfulfilled promises; it doesn't have to be seen that way.
"The blueprints for the glass castle are long since lost," Walls said. "But it was never really about a building. It was about an idea and a dream and getting out. So I think in a way, the glass castle has been built."

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