Best-selling author comes to ISU
Published: Friday, October 19, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 19, 2012 01:10
By drawing on personal experience, best-selling author and journalist encouraged students and faculty to embrace and take advantage of their past, no matter what personal demons lurk within.
Jeannette Walls, author of “The Glass Castle,” a New York Times Best Seller and one of the top ten books of the decade according to Amazon, addressed ISU students and faculty Wednesday in Tilson Auditorium while promoting the book. The event was in conjunction with ISU’s Fall Read program and the University Speaker Series.
“I identified with it because [my family] didn’t always have money for everything either,” freshman psychology major Jeffrey Neal said. “I found [the speech] very relatable.”
Walls said that even though “The Glass Castle” was a memoir, she hoped readers would pull a bigger message from it.
“We’re all so much stronger than we realize,” she said. “It’s about finding tools to become the person you want to be.”
It was a story Walls said she had spent much of her life hiding from loved ones. As she became more successful, however, she said it was harder to run from her memories.
“My biggest fear was myself and my own past,” she said.
While sitting in the back of a taxi on the way to a party one night, Walls saw a homeless person walking along the busy New York street. Walls was mortified to discover the person was actually her mother.
“It was a source of deep shame,” she said. “I was afraid I would get fired or lose my friends if they found out.”
The book further explores Walls’ impoverished and nomadic childhood at the hands of eccentric parents, Rex and Rose Mary. Her mother was an artist who was focused more on her craft and less on raising her four children. Walls’ father, on the other hand, instilled imagination and education into his kids, teaching them biology, math and physics.
Her father’s alcoholism and paranoia, as well as her mother’s thirst for excitement, kept the family on the move until they landed in a desolate West Virginia mining town. With resources scarce, Walls and her siblings had to rely on each other survive, all of them eventually escaping to New York for chances at better lives.
“I enjoyed the speech more than I thought I would,” Neal said. “I think [the book] helps people who struggle with self esteem.”