by Jeannette Walls
audio book: 8 hours
I "met" Jeannette through her memoir THE GLASS CASTLE which I read with my book club in 2008. This book is basically a prequel to that one, in that it is the story of her grandmother and (partially) of her mother. If you've read THE GLASS CASTLE then you know that Jeannette's mother was one odd bird; this book goes a long way to explain that oddness.
Lily Casey Smith, grandmother to Jeannette, was born in a dugout home on a Texas riverfront. She left home at age 15 to be a school teacher during World War I. Her life was was fascinating, although not always easy, and she had to work for everything she had. I won't tell you much more than that as it would spoil the fun of reading it for you.
Jeannette calls this a "true-life novel" because it is based on family stories that were passed down from her grandmother to her mother and then to her. Some of the stories can be verified but others cannot. Jeannette had to fill in the blanks in places, and she also told the story from Lily's point of view so there were obviously some liberties taken (since Lily died when Jeannette was only 8 yrs old). The story has the ring of truth to it though, as all good family stories do.
I had a hard time getting into this book at first. Unlike THE GLASS CASTLE, it didn't grab me from the beginning. Once Lily left home however, I was really into the story. And once her daughter Rosemary was born (that's Jeannette's mother), I couldn't take my ear away from the radio; I wanted to know everything I could about how she came to be the woman she was.
In the end, I'd say that if you enjoyed THE GLASS CASTLE, you will likely enjoy this book as well so do give it a shot.
Oh, and it is narrated by the author. She does a good job of it, but personally I'm not a fan of her accent. I do like it when authors narrate their own books though, especially when they are of the true-life variety, so I didn't let the accent get to me.
(This book counts toward the Library and Audiobook challenges.)