Jeannette Walls tells her unforgettable story of growing up in a dysfunctional family with two eccentric, irresponsible, nomadic parents. Rex, the father, is uneducated but brillian, self-taught inventor who could have done well and achieved something had he not been an alcoholic. Rose Mary, the mother, is an artist to whom art comes first, before anything else - including her four children.
The children are not being raised, they are raising themselves. Constantly moving about, they live in the degrading poverty. Jeannette recalls, among other things, using markers to color her skin in order to conseal holes in her clothes. The treatment of the children is shocking, and the saddest thing is that Jeannette, her brother, and sisters still desperately love their neglectful parents. They take the hardships as adventure, and savor every tiny bit of care their parents occasionally give them. I saw some reviewers say that the parents love the children as well, in their own way; I say baloney. If you love your kids, you don't let them starve and wear rags, and you don't steal their tiny savings like their father once did. The children eventually escape this life by running to New York, but it is a long way for their troubles to be over.
The most amazing thing is the way Jeannette tells her life story. She does not judge or complain, she is not angry - although she has all the right to be. She just re-tells the adventures she's been through, introducing all the interesting people she met, starting with the parents.
This report prepared by Laura Southcombe