I just finished reading Glass Castle, a profoundly entertaining and fascinating story about a girl who grew up a nomad in the west (Nevada, California, Arizona),then moved to West Virginia, and ultimately became a reporter in New York City. Her poverty is heart-wrenching, the stories of her alcoholic father are difficult, and her parents’ financial decisions — which often meant leaving none for food for weeks at a time — were ugly. But her indomitable spirit throughout, her bonding with her siblings, and the joy she found in simple things is inspiring.
The book is outstanding. It has been turned into a movie, and I can see why. It has vivid descriptions, fascinating moments, some horrifying details, strong characters, and ultimately has a mostly happy ending. A friend also recently mentioned that she intends to reread it, a move that is usually reserved for great books with powerful life lessons; I can see why she would do that, and think it does meet those criteria.
The big takeaways for me, and what I hope to remember for years, are the changes in tone that a positive enthusiasm brought. Over the years she began to realize that they were only temporary, and that her parents would begin to disappoint again soon, but I don’t have to follow that playbook. I can bring positive enthusiasm and a penchant for exciting activities, instill that in our children, and then follow through with good parenting, providing the basics, and helping the kids grow. We are lucky enough to have plenty of resources, and intelligent enough (or perhaps boring enough?) to save and provide all the necessities all the time. So while my kids will never be left wanting, I do see the value that scarcity and challenge brings in developing tough, competent kids. The challenge will be to find ways of developing those characteristics without putting them through a life of poverty.