Jeanette Walls grew up with her siblings in a family that was constantly facing adversity from all angles, including from her parents themselves. While in their parents “care,” the children do not have the financial stability most other children do. The family is constantly on the move, with Jeanette and her siblings "scraping by." They live in various places across the country, often leaving for a new town in an effort to escape paying taxes or avoid other financial business issues. Her father is an alcoholic and a gambler; her mother paints and, despite having the qualifications to be a teacher, does not want to work.
Fast forward: When she does leave her parents to be with her sister, the two work out a life better than they had before. It is built on hard work and managing themselves better.
BTSYA / Teen Reader (15):
This book was a pleasant surprise, keeping me hooked the entire time. Jeannette’s unique story and the events in her life that took place were not something I expected. When this book was recommended for me, I thought it would be a book that I would not be able to pick up as I expected a dull story. But everything from Jeanette herself to her family to her constant struggle had me staying up late to read more.
This is a powerful story, with a window into poverty, addiction, and family dysfunction. Yet it also shows us that what "was" doesn't always have to be what "is." As someone who lived in Southern West Virginia (and who graduated from what was then Morris Harvey College), I can say that Walls nailed her descriptions of the environment (topography, socio-economic woes, demographics). They were palatable and I could really feel like I was there.
I had not thought of this as a young adult book when I read it, but looking back, can see it now - and highly recommend for high school audiences.
Captivating, heart-breaking and yet still hopeful. Jeanette Walls creates the opportunity for readers to walk in her shoes.
Not a con, but the book has mature themes: negligence, substance abuse, and explicit language, including cursing.
This is an adult biography that is accessible to a teen audience.
This would make an exceptional choice for a teen book club or counseling group. Themes of personal responsibility, addiction, negligence, and overcoming challenges are among several layers that can be explored.
15 and Up
15 and Up
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reader age: 15
Borrow. Powerful and worthwhile for teens and adults alike.