The Distinguished Lecture Series welcomed Jeannette Walls, the author of the memoir “The Glass Castle,” to the Memorial Union Wednesday.
Walls discussed that while writing the tale of her childhood hardships was difficult, it has also been educational and transformative.
“It’s ironic that it gives me such joy sharing my story with you, even though it used to be a source of deep shame for me,” she said.
She emphasized that the idea of telling the truth, especially in nonfiction writing, is important.
“We shape our truths by the stories we tell and how we choose to tell them,” Walls said.
She described how facing one’s demons is the key to accepting the past and telling a wholly honest story. She had to acknowledge details of her past that she continues to deal with today.
“If you run from your demon, it will chase you,” Walls said. “But if you reach a point in your life where you are able to turn around and face them, not only can they not hurt, I’ve come to believe that that is where you’ll find your greatest strength.”
She also explained how she strives to have her book be one everyone can connect to. Her main goal when writing it, she said, was for a “rich kid” to read it and understand what the individuals on the other end of the spectrum were going through and develop compassion. She wants this to open people up to new ideas and acceptance of others.
Walls has written two other novels: “Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel” and “The Silver Star.” “The Glass Castle” has been on the New York Times Bestsellers list for more than six years and has sold 4.5 million copies in the U.S.
“We all have texture,” Walls said. “We all have our scars; some are visible, some are invisible … together we make a crazy quilt of humanity … It is your texture, they are your scars, they are your stories, they are whatever you choose to make of them.”