Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle, will visit Indiana University East on Wednesday, November 28. The public is welcome to attend a free reading at 7 p.m. in Vivian Auditorium, located in Whitewater Hall.
“We are very fortunate in getting someone of the stature of Jeannette Walls to come to our campus, not only because she is recognized nationally but also because her memoir is one that will give anyone who is struggling hope,” said TJ Rivard, chair of the Humanities and Fine Arts Division. “I think it is particularly fitting that Jeannette Walls should come to IU East because many of our students have found ways to succeed and survive in the same way that she has. Walls and her family in The Glass Castle are testaments to the notion that there is more than one way to live and more than one way to find joy.”
Critics have called Walls’s memoir “spectacular,” “extraordinary,” “incredible,” and “riveting.” It has been a New York Times bestseller for more than 75 weeks, has sold more than 1.5 million copies, been translated into sixteen languages, and is being made into a movie by Paramount. Its numerous awards include the Christopher Award, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, and the Books for Better Living Award.
Frances Peacock, lecturer in the IU East English Department, said Walls’ visit is an example of how students and faculty can work together to make great things happen. Peacock was encouraged by two students to invite the author to IU East. The students were a part of LINC, a freshman learning community at IU East.
“Two students who read the book during fall 2006 so connected to Walls’ account of her life, that they later attended her reading in Dayton. After the reading they met Walls and experienced her delightful personality first hand. As a result, the students encouraged me to invite Walls to IU East,” Peacock said.
In the Glass Castle, Walls describes growing up in the desert of the American Southwest and then in a West Virginia mining town with her three siblings and the brilliant, unorthodox, irresponsible parents who manage at once to neglect them, love them, and teach them to face their fears.
The story is at times harrowing and at times hilarious as the children go without food and indoor plumbing yet are encouraged to read Shakespeare and dream of the beautiful glass house they will all one day build. Despite all her hardships, Walls develops the determination to leave West Virginia on her own at the age of sixteen, move to New York City, enroll in Barnard College and eventually become a well-known columnist for New York magazine and MSNBC.com and a television personality.
This inspirational book has been taught at universities in courses on literature, psychology, parenting, child development, and poverty. Walls has spoken at colleges, corporations, and business associations about overcoming hardship and the keys to turning adversity to your advantage.
“I am glad to see that steps are being made to better IU East and our community. Hopefully, Jeannette Walls will be able to show the students at IU East that your life can always be improved. No matter how dark or how bright your life is, there is room to make it brighter,” said Richmond High School student Brandon Brookbank. Brookbank is enrolled in IU East’s dual enrollment course.
Walls lives in the Virginia piedmont with her husband, the writer John Taylor. She has appeared on Prime Time Live, Good Morning America, Larry King Live, Oprah, and the Diane Rheem Show.