In 2005 Jeannette Walls wrote her memoir titled The Glass Castle. Fast forward and on August 11, 2017 the major motion picture of the book hits theaters! This review is going to be a 2 for 1 since I recently read the book AND I was lucky enough to go to an early screening of the movie last week (thanks Falen)! If I am being honest, until this book was chosen for book club I had never heard of it. Sadly, I hadn’t seen the previews for the movie till recently either. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, check it out HERE.
Though I started the book knowing at the end I would see the movie, I was never tempted to search for the trailer the movie. I wanted to experience the book with what I thought the characters looked, sounded, and acted like based on the descriptions in the book. I have to admit, this was not one of the fastest books I have read. Though I was very interested in the book, there was just SO much content and I didn’t want to miss any detail or get lost in all that was happening, so I read the book slowly.
My first few thoughts of the book was “this is crazy and I cannot believe that anyone let alone parents and 4 children lived this way for years.” As the book continued, the stories and experiences became even crazier. I had to keep reminding myself that this book was based off people’s real lives and not just something written down on paper, which still blows my mind. I won’t give any spoilers away or much about the book, but the biggest thing is the family relationship and especially that of Jeannette and her father, Rex. Reading the book I felt so bad for her and her siblings because in my opinion they were subjected to child abuse. Though it was evident their parents loved them and had great live lessons to share. Some of my favorite quotes/sayings from the book came from Jeannette’s mother Mary Rose, but the life lessons came from Rex, though I did not agree with his methods for teaching these life lessons. Below are my 2 favorite quotes:
- Life is a drama full of tragedy and comedy. You should learn to enjoy the comic episodes a little more. Page 129
- Life’s too short to worry about what other people think. Anyway, they should accept us for who we are. Page 157
I only got a little more than half way through the book before I went to the movie screening. I did continue reading the book after the movie but this time I did so with a new view on the book and the characters.
The movie itself was great, though at the beginning I was not feeling it. Part of that had to do with me feeling like things were being rushed and stories seemed to be missed, ones I personally thought were big parts of the book. Of course, as the movie continued these stories were told (for the most part) I just wasn’t being patient enough. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that the ways storied unfold or are presented in books are not always the same in the movie renditions. Overall, I think the movie itself covered the main topics and stories of the book.
The biggest thing for me was the acting, all the actors were great! The 3 main/ most famous actors were Brie Larson who played Jeannette, Woody Harrelson who played Rex who was Jeannette’s father, and Naomi Watts who played Rose Mary who was Jeannette’s mother. As expected, these actors were great. But there were younger versions of each of the 4 children throughout the movie and they were brilliant! They were able to shoot scenes in which covered serious and intense experiences and did so with very real reactions. This is not the kind of movie that you walk away feeling super happy or giddy about. It’s one that makes you think, be grateful for what you have, and examine your life… well at least that what the movie did for me.
The screening of the movie came with a few added bonuses that I just HAVE to share because it added so much to the experience and my take on both the movie and book. To start off with, the author Jeannette Walls was there after the screening for Q & A! How exciting, right? I was lucky enough to have 2 of my questions answered, but as 1 could give away part of the ending of the book/movie I will only share 1 of my questions. My question was, “In both the movie and the book we see that your parents taught you many lessons, what is the one lesson you would say is the most important or sticks with you the most?” Her response was, “To chase your demons, as they can haunt you.” If you read the book or see the movie, you will understand how true this is for her story, but I think it’s a great lesson for anyone.
Other takeaways from the Q & A with Jeannette included learning she did not help with the casting choices, but she thought that everyone was casted perfectly. She was also not the screen writer for the book but worked them and the director throughout the journey, sometimes even questioning why things were not added into the movie that were found in the book. But in the end she said she understood all their choices and agreed with them. The biggest surprise to me was learning that Jeanette never and still doesn’t see herself as a child who went through abuse, but maybe neglect. Knowing this little bit of information cause me to finish the book with a different lens and perspective. Jeanette is funny, she joked about how her life is LITERALLY an open book! Jeannette shared with the audience that all of the paintings that her mother in the movie was painting are ACTUAL paintings her mother has done, they were loaned to the movie for filming. A very insightful message from Jeanette came when an audience member who teaches high school students shared that she has her students read her book each year and asked what her advice or message to them would be. Jeannette’s response was perfect for high schoolers, “Trust yourself and believe this isn’t always the best of your lives.”
After the Q & A, Jeannette took time to sign movie posters or books if you brought them (I did!) and take photos. It was such a pleasure meeting Jeanette and learning move about the whole experience of her writing the book and making the movie. I highly recommend this book and movie to any and every one!