The Glass Cas­tle

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - ON SCREEN - by Jean­nette Walls, Ha­chette.

Former gos­sip writer Jean­nette Walls used to ex­pose the se­crets of the “fat cats and skinny dames”, as her fa­ther called them, of New York City but she would take pains to keep her own back­ground un­der wraps for fear she would lose her job. But not un­til she’d writ­ten an in­flam­ma­tory item about the Church of Scien­tol­ogy and dis­cov­ered the in­sti­tu­tion had be­gun an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into her own life did she feel the time was right to tell the truth. Her un­set­tling mem­oir The Glass Cas­tle was the re­sult. The fairy­tale-like prom­ise of the book ti­tle, which comes from the ar­chi­tec­tural won­der Jean­nette’s fa­ther vows to build his fam­ily one day, bears no re­la­tion to the har­row­ing re­al­ity of what the au­thor and her two siblings had to en­dure dur­ing their child­hood. They were raised by a bril­liant and pos­si­bly bipo­lar drunk­ard of a fa­ther and a free-spir­ited, ego­cen­tric artist mother,, both adults emo­tion­ally and fi­nan­cially ill-equipped to raise chil­dren. As the itin­er­ant fam­ily skips from place to place, stay­ing in one run­down hovel af­ter an­other, try­ing to stay a step ahead of debt col­lec­tors, the Walls’ lives be­comes in­creas­ingly bleak. As the chil­dren grow into teenagers, they grad­u­ally come to the re­al­i­sa­tion that if they are to get out of their im­pov­er­ished cir­cum­stances they need to aban­don their co-de­pen­dent par­ents. Their re­mark­able story, orig­i­nally pub­lished in 2005, has been re-re­leased to ac­com­pany its fea­ture film adap­ta­tion, star­ring Brie Larsen, Woody Har­rel­son and Naomi Watts.

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