Type: Review
Pages: 7 | Words: 1843
Reading Time: 8 Minutes

The memoir by journalist Jeannette shows the early childhood of four children under chaotic parenting of Rex (father) and Rose Mary. During the early life, the family lived nomadically between Southwest desert towns. The life of the children greatly reflects on the parent’s conservative nature which leads to stubborn figure.

The life of Jeannette’s family involved a lot of migration and lack of regular dwelling because of her parents’ failure. The definition of homelessness varies and greatly depends on the standard of living a person fits. Sometimes Jeannette, together with her siblings, lived in a poor housing.

The homeless people fall into a significant number in Battle Creek, Michigan. According to the report released by the US government, there are approximately 331,100 persons who are unsheltered in the state of Michigan. They fall under the low income earning categories of population.

The family spent considerable time in the desert. There are different reasons that might have lead to this lifestyle in the jungle. Firstly, they didn’t have money to pay for bills. The bill collectors and authority made them run for solace in the woods. Secondly, Rose Mary Walls, Jeannette’s mother had experience in the life in the desert, having grown up in the desert. She knew which plants were edible and which ones were not. This way, they could collect something to eat. Rex was an inventor and a man who seemed to fix anything physical might have contributed too.

Rex and Mary chose to remain homeless even though they had land in Virginia and other inherited properties. The New York life as homeless couple was not easy for both Rex and Rose Mary. It is not clear as to why they chose this lifestyle. Perhaps it was because they were conservative. They must have also felt that their children needed the inheritance more than they did. They might have felt a feeling which can be tied with regret. Jeannette enjoyed the hospital set up which is different from nomadic and homelessness. She loved the quiet and orderliness. She also watched television.

In the memoir both parents show different mental illnesses. Mental illness can be psychological or behavioral. The family is full of chaotic events and disorderly lifestyle.

Mental health enables a person to be successful in integrating reality and acceptance of life as it should be. Mary Walls was a complete control freak who never wanted to become a wife and a mother in a normal way. In the beginning of story, she still has sanity. At this time, she occasionally teaches at school. Her inability to question events and take control of them as a mature woman is not forthcoming in most instances in later years.

Rose Mary Walls loved panting. The art of painting overtakes most other responsibilities in her life. She laments that cooking a good meal takes most of her time which could be otherwise used painting. She argued that, painting lasts forever but meal lasts only fifteen minutes.

Irresponsibility of Mary Walls continues as she fails to provide a decent dwelling. During their nomadic life, she lets the children suffer trauma after trauma. Jeannette gets burned as she cooks hotdogs for the family. While in Battle Mountain, the children go to sleep in the refrigerator boxes and use industrial cables as basic furniture, chairs and tables. Even after abandoning her responsibilities here, Mary suggests that she needs a piano.

The unstable mental health of Mary Walls shows up in teaching profession. Teaching is a good profession but she despises it. In her failure to accept reality she developed hatred to teaching. In fact, she compares teaching to failure as an artist. As a mature person, she should have instead found a way of balancing teaching and her love for art.

Mary totally lost order and control in her life having failed to say no to most of her husband’s sloppiness. She seemed to give up on things or she simply did not care.

Mary also had childish behavior. After the break down of their van in New Jersey, Jeannette allowed her parents to move to live with her in New York. When Mary clutters Lori’s room with her paintings, she failed to her expectations as a mother. Lori gives her an ultimatum to leave, if she was not going to straighten things up. She prefers to stay in the van with Rex.

Rex had one very consistent and hard to deal with mental illness, alcoholism. Perhaps alcoholism deterred him from achieving his dream of life to build a glass house for the house. He also behaved weird despite his innovativeness maybe because of too much alcohol.

Rex had a wide knowledge in astrology and geology. He worked for Air Force in his early life and it was during his time in force that he met Mary and later married her. His admirable intelligence also inspired and kept her daughter Jeannette holding on to family.

The habit of alcoholism can be traced back to early life of Rex. Walls second born, Mary Charlene, died at the age of nine months. Though this lost did not greatly affect Mary who always believed that there was no need to worry so much about children, it changed Rex. The tragedy hurt and wounded him so much that he started drinking. According to Rose Mary, that marked the beginning of what was to become the endless alcoholism.

Rex’s alcoholism had many impacts. It brought poverty to the family because most of the money ended on alcohol drinks. In her candid and personal experience, Jeannette explains how she had to go without eating anything for days. She scavenged for lunch rummaging within the cans at school. She also had to steal from her colleagues at school to survive.

Alcoholism takes away the rationale of doing the right thing. When Rex consumed beer he was bearable but he was violent after liquor. He threatened his wife and always went into frenzy of arguments with her. He also threw furniture.

Rex lost consistency in the job. Alcoholism is a price to pay in one’s life. Rex paid his in different ways.

The alcohol problem forced Rex to steal from his children. Alcohol spending also forced him to sleep in below standard dwellings, many times spending or staying in the car.

Forgiveness is a virtue which Jeannette owns in her heart throughout her young years of life. Whether it is by destiny or by fate, the family lifestyle greatly shapes the way Jeannette grows up.

Jeannette got burned when she was three because of negligence. Her mother did not like to cook and the responsibility fell on her. At one time, while Mary painted in a different room, Jeannette’s dress got on fire. She could not extinguish it and called for help. The fire burns her dress till her hair catches fire too. This incident shows how Jeannette became overworked by parents. Finally, Mary rescued her by wrapping in a blanket. Later she received treatment from hospital.

Jeannette does not lose his love for family after the accident. Even though hurt and hospitalized, she still maintains her relationship with dad. This shows her forgiveness.

The life that Jeannette endures is very challenging. Stricken by poverty, she steals from her colleagues at school in order to survive. However, in an unbelievable manner she never develops bitterness towards her parents. In fact, she shows willingness to assist as it can be seen while she is in New York. She accommodates all her family after Rex and Mary have an accident in New Jersey and lose their property.

During one of the migration, Jeannette gets thrown out of a moving car. She, however, does not burn in rage but forgives the family, especially her dad who was driving and life continued.

Jeannette showed an awesome loving character. She loved her parents, siblings and her grandmother too. The way she brings out positivity and avenue to learn a life skill is nothing but all because of smartness and love for her family.

Jeannette love extends beyond family. Despite the bullying that she received from schoolmates, Jeannette helped a boy who was bitten by a dog. She chased the dog away and took the boy home on her back. She went ahead to be a friend with the boy despite the scold from her grandmother Erma. It is very important that Jeannette’s mother finally made her daughter learn an essential virtue in life of appreciating other people.

When Jeannette started to work, she helped her family.

Jeannette offered to help the family out after they lost property in an accident in New Jersey. She seems quick to help her parents who do little to help her. She is always disappointed but she does not withdraw her love from them. When Rex got tuberculosis during winter, Jeannette visits him in the hospital.

Finally, Jeannette exhibits a distinct daring character. She dares many things in life that most girls in this world would not even think of doing.

A few days after her father took her from hospital, Jeannette dares to cook hotdogs once again. We expect that she will dread fire and stay away from it but unexpectedly she becomes charmed by fire more than before.

Rex, in his untamed and strange character, showed Jeannette the art of passing finger over candle flame. She even goes ahead to practice it severally. She also played with small fires she lit with the matches in addition to going close to trash fires and in weird way found pleasure in it. Unfortunately, her Tinker ball-doll ended up catching fire in one of the daring escapades. In another dare, Jeannette set ablaze toilet papers.

Billy Deel tried to rape Jeannette as they were playing hide and seek game, though he had earlier showed interest by requesting her to be her girlfriend. After the incident, she is not afraid of him but she returns the ring the boy had given her at his house. Supposing the boy tried raping her once again?

During her economically hard times, Jeannette dares to allow her dad to win some money through distraction, almost getting herself raped by one elderly man she met in the bar.

Homelessness is a bad experience a person can have as I have learnt personally from Jeannette’s memoir. From the book, it is apparent that there is no comfort when there is no good dwelling place. The children in the Walls family are exposed to mean grandmother because of homelessness.

Poverty, on the other hand, exposes a family to many dangers. Jeannette was a victim of many situations which would have compromised her life, if she had not been smart. Maureen Walls stayed with friends, so that she could get food and shelter. Jeannette’s school life was hard and sometimes she had to dig for food from garbage.

The effects of poverty can be positive. The subjection of child to poverty during the early life may build an attitude towards poverty. This attitude may be worked on to give motivation and encouragement in a person to work on eradication of poverty. Jeannette became fascinated by her dad’s ability to fix things and innovativeness. Rex was also very intelligent. Jeannette made a breakthrough in life despite being from a poor family.

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