My title says it all. You wouldn't expect a memoir of a VERY dysfunctional family to be so engaging - but it is. A very insightful story - but not told to yield insight - about growing up with a narcissistic, alcoholic father and a well meaning, but detached daydreamer/artist of a mother. That the author and her siblings should be so resilient says a lot about the human capacity to cope and survive, but also about how even dysfunctional parents can pass along life-sustaining qualities. Although I seldom think authors should read their own books, Walls does a passable job that does not distract from her story.
I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.
It is hard to believe that people lead lives such as the one Walls narrates in this book. That a person can have an upbringing such as the one she had and turn out capable and well-adjusted is nothing short of a miracle. I loved that Jeanette developed strength from adversity and was inspired by her.
I've listened to well over 200 audiobooks, and this is the first time I truly wished I had read the print version instead. Usually I feel the narration brings the story to life, but no so here. It makes sense to have the author narrate a memoir, but this was absolutely horrendous! Walls' habit of speaking in pattern, with every sentence sounding exactly the same, simply accentuates the choppy writing style. Instead of being charming, her subtle West Virginia accent became tortuous- she "set" rather than "sat", there was "suit" in the stove pipe instead of "soot", and every word ending in "ing" was pronounced "'in' "(walkin', talkin' etc.). The entire audiobook sounds like it was told by a crabby 12 year old. If I hadn't been trying to finish in time for my book club meeting I would have abandoned the audiobook. The story itself is engaging- a true example of the truth being stranger than fiction- and I truly admire her strength, tenacity and resilience. I would give the audiobook 2.5 stars, but I
think the print version, without the dreadful narration, would merit 4.
Counselor with eclectic taste, I enjoy all types of fiction, dark, strange and twisted things, humor and explicitly.
The story was interesting enough; although at times I found the discrepancies that were overlooked peculiar. The writing lacked substance and was a bit flat for my taste. There were time s when I found myself annoyed with the incessant “I said…she said…he said” It was a bit too much, I mean come on, really I think the reader gets the point. I can’t say I hated it but I think Jeannette Wall’s should focus on the writing and leave the narrating to others.
I thought this story was fantastic, but the author's reading was a bit too slow for me. I listened to it all on 1.25 speed. I'm only criticizing the speed; the tone and characterization were wonderful.
Having emerged from a dysfunctional family myself, I was amazed at how good my life had actually been compared to this one. Yikes. Brilliant writing. Excellent narration. I'm recommending this to all my friends who 'think' they too have emerged from a dysfunctional family.
The first ten sentences belong totally in the world of fantasy.
Not by this author.
Anger at the company who paid her for her "memoir".
Wow I thought I had it bad growing up! This is am amazing story about overcoming a childhood filled with so much dysfunction to become a successful adult. Enjoyed This book and recommend it to my friends.
I have not read the print book, however, I liked the audio edition very much.
It is somewhat comparable to Drinking: A love story, in it's discussion of the difficulty of dealing with addiction; or to Breaking NIght, in it's discussion of the difficulties of being a child of poverty. But it is it's own story, with discussion of aspects of race, cultural differences, and the impact of a steady diet of broken promises.
As with most story tellers, the author's use of description and character development helps you feel you are there where the story is unfolding.
I liked the narrator. I found their reading style easy to listen to, with good intonation and inflection.
Good book, I liked it very much
When I began listening to this memoir, I became disgusted and enraged; I almost stopped a couple of hours in, but I kept at it and I'm very glad I did. Like many other people who've commented on this book, I thought of the parents as selfish and the treatment of the children as child abuse. But you get a little further in and you start thinking mom is bipolar and dad is a genius whose brain got pickled in the womb. This doesn't justify their behavior; it simply helps to explain some of it. They both had a screw loose.
Some people did not like Walls' narration. I felt that she read it much the way she felt it as a child. Again, it took me a while to come to this realization, but I think this helped make it feel more true.
I found it amazing that Rex and Rose Mary found each other. The life they created was normal for them, maybe not so for you and me, but it was their life and unfortunately their kids had to go along with it. Even if they'd sold the land in TX, They would have found a way to burn through the $ with little benefit to the kids. I do think, though, that Lori, Jeannette, and Brian got more from their parents in some ways than many of us do in "normal" families. My dad never gave me a planet. Maureen, on the other hand, came along too late to reap the good stuff; the parents were burned out by then.
Just as Jeannette's sociology teacher thought she knew it all, so too,do some of the "normal" people of this world. It does really take all kinds. Not everyone follows the same set of rules. I really appreciate Walls giving us the opportunity to see her world from her viewpoint, from her normal.