This book was quite enjoyable, especially if you like memoirs or ranch life. It is a gritty and realistic story, with foreshadowing for "The Glass Castle." I wish I had been able to read this book first. The protagonist is self-sufficient, resilient and competent against all odds. It is a pleasure to read a book about a successful woman, without a political agenda taking it over.
This story is inspiring, and well-written, about a strong, independent woman who had a very interesting life. I wish I had bought the book to read instead of the audio version, though, because I did not enjoy the author's narration of her own work. She claims to have found her "grandmother's voice", but her too-perfect diction just didn't sound like a woman from Texas to me. However, I was able to enjoy the story on its own merits. It was almost as good as her previous work, "The Glass Castle".
The story is taken from the life of the author's grandmother, great grandparents, and mother and is largely non-fiction, although called a real life novel by Ms. Walls. The telling of the story, which begins in the early 1900s in a dugout home in the bank of a draw in Western Texas, is gentle and loving. The grandmother become a teacher in one-room school houses in the most remote portions of Northern Arizona but she and her family are also farmers, ranchers, artists, policemen, and Army flyers. The grandmother's strong character, her husband's kinship with a well-known Mormon figure, and the slow sweep of history - through the 1st WW, the depresion, and the 2nd WW is very engaging. Ms. Walls is both the author and the narrator and has the advantage of knowing her grandmother's speech patterns and character. A very enjoyable read.
At first, I wasn't sure I liked the reading pattern of Jeannette Walls, but soon it became apparent that it contributed to defining the main character of Lily. I soon felt swept up in the story and couldn't wait to listen to more. The American southwest and an era I knew little about came alive in vivid color, smells, and so much more. This was a great listen.
I couldn't stop listening. Loved the story over a woman's whole interesting life. Also like that it was the mother of the crazy mom in Glass Castles. Liked hearing some of her childhood also.
This book was an interesting read (or listen) because of the fortitude of the main character. It was also historically interesting, in terms of the dynamic of the TX, AZ and NM land over the last century or so. I just couldn't help to compare it to the real, heart-wrenching story of the author and her own memoirs. They were so real, so sad, and so loving. I yearned for more detail about Jeanette's mother, Rosemary, and an explanation of how her childhood formulated her into the kind of drifting mother she was. I never quite found it. Also, would have really enjoyed another narrator. Ms. Walls read more with factually than perhaps someone who was reading the text to whom it was more novel.
I loved Jeanette's voice in telling this tale and am so delighted she chose to do it herself. That twangy and fiesty tone really set the pace to portray her dear old Grandma.
This book is every bit as good as The Glass Castle and is written so well, with such insight and detail and feeling, I, at times, felt as though I were right there at the kitchen table, having a cup of tea and a chat with the family as Lily waves her choppers around to show them off.
Jeanette, I really love your writing and truely admire how you turned your life around and became the successful writer you are today. It's all very amazing and profoundly inspiring.
Huntress of Dirty Socks
Jeannette Walls did an incredible job preserving not only her grandmother's memory, but making the times and places in which Lilly lived as fascinating as Lilly was. (Walls is an excellent narrator, too.)
I couldn't stop listening -- this was a very enjoyable book, reminding me of Ralph Moody's stories about growing up in the west.
This is very much worth a listen. I recently finished "Glass Castle" and wanted more. Although not an immediate tie in with GC, this story seems to easily relate to GC since you know you are finding out about Wall's grandmother - and the prime influence on her mother. Helps to make sense out of GC if that is of interest to you. If not, it is still an interesting story of a tough and self-reliant woman making a go of it in the early 1900's in Arizona and New Mexico.