This is not a book review. That wouldn’t fit my “Mental Health Monday” theme, now would it? And yet I just spent a couple of hours finishing a wonderful novel (yes—reading in the middle of the day since it’s too hot to do anything else) and the author’s story is what’s on my mind today. Keep reading for my segue into mental health.
In January of 2011 I had the pleasure of meeting Jeanette Walls. I had just read her best-selling memoir, The Glass Castle, and was so happy to be able to attend her reading at Lemuria Books in Jackson, Mississippi. (I blogged about the event here: “Push and Pray.”)
Walls’ books are all well written, but it’s her own story and how she has responded to adversity—especially to neglect and abandonment by her extremely dysfunctional parents—that keeps me reading and taking inspiration from her work. On the back cover of her latest novel, The Silver Star, (which I just finished reading a few minutes ago) are these words:
Jeannette Walls has written a deeply moving novel about triumph over adversity and about people who find a way to love each other and the world, despite its flaws and injustices.
Although The Silver Star is a work of fiction, you can hear Walls’s own voice in the narrator, Bean, the younger of the two sisters at the heart of the novel. I just went back and read a few pages from The Glass Castle, and it’s amazing how similar their voices are. But even if Walls and her siblings didn’t experience the same injustices that Bean and Liz experience in the novel, you know she’s writing from having lived through similar things. More importantly, you sense that, like Bean and Liz, she has also learned to forgive and to love the broken people in her stories, and in her world. Her writing has no trace of anger, bitterness or resentment, which is pretty amazing to me.
That’s why my response to this novel fits here in the Mental Health Monday category. Anything that teaches us how to love each other and this flawed, messed up world is a terrific mental health tool. Thanks for sharing it with us, Jeanette.
Want more? You can watch this video of the author talking about the book, or if you were hoping for a book review, here’s a good one from the New York Times.
Wondering about the picture of the little girl with the emu? You’ll have to read the book!