The Class Castle is the haunting memoir of Jeanette Walls, a girl growing up with three siblings and two irresponsible parents. Mostly living in unclean, unsafe conditions, Jeanette’s parents, Rex, an alcoholic, and Rose Mary, an aspiring artist who could not lay down her ambitions for the sake of her children, migrated their family from town to town, often stealing, to escape their debtors. What Jeanette went through growing up, and the fact that she is a normal, intelligent woman today – who could write this book and still have affection for her parents -is nothing short of miraculous!
Half-Broke Horses is Walls’ biography of her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith. Walls attempts to tell this true story in her grandmother’s own voice. Lily lived in the American southwest and had a spunky and tough demeanor. She went through many an ordeal in the 1920s and ’30s, an interesting bit of Americana, although nothing too extreme. I admire the author’s bravery in taking on a ‘sort-of’ memoir in a voice other than her own.