Best-selling author to young people: Life is an adventure
Posted: Friday, February 4, 2011 9:06 pm
By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
“Life is an adventure,” insists Jeannette Walls.
For the Virginia writer, the sentiment represents a profound determination not only to triumph over adversity but also to acknowledge the problems that haunted her family and encourage others facing similar challenges to overcome them.
The best-selling author of “The Glass Castle” and “Half-Broke Horses” will be in Union City March 8-9 to talk to local readers about her past and their future.
She will be the featured speaker at the Union City Rotary Club Distinguished Speaker event at 6 p.m. March 8 at the Hampton Centré and will also spend time March 9 with students from Union City, Obion County Central and South Fulton high schools who have been reading her book.
Tickets for the speakers’ event are $150 and they have been selling quickly, with only a few remaining, according to Clay Woods, who has been heading up the committee that is sponsoring Ms. Walls’ visit to Union City. The evening will include a catered meal, an address by the author and an opportunity to have copies of “The Glass Castle” autographed. Paperback editions of the story of her childhood as part of a deeply dysfunctional family are available at Walmart. The Obion County Public Library also has several copies for loan.
The committee, which was brought together by Woods and fellow Rotarian Gary Houston, includes educators and representatives of the library, along with others with an interest in literacy. Houston, who is the director of schools for Union City School System, first conceived the idea of inviting an author to visit the area and encouraging students and adults throughout the community to read the writer’s work and then take advantage of an opportunity to ask questions about it in a public setting. When Woods was able to make personal contact with Ms. Walls, whose first book has been translated into more than 16 languages and has sold more than 1.5 million copies, she was fascinated by the concept of an entire community sharing a reading experience and agreed to spend time in Union City talking about the book and her childhood — which is the subject of “The Glass Castle.”
Students in area high schools have been reading the book recently and all of them who have completed it are being invited to attend a special session with the author at Union City Civic Auditorium on the final day of her March visit.
Ms. Walls told Woods she wrote the book specifically to speak to young people. She said she wanted those who are poor to realize they do not have to be trapped in a lifetime of poverty or to be defined by their financial circumstances. She also wanted those young people who are rich — and she defines that group as children of families who are able to pay their bills on time — to understand the challenges children of poverty face and to learn that simple hygiene, hunger and shelter may be issues a child of poverty cannot manage effectively on a day-to-day basis.
Woods describes the author as a dynamic and engaging speaker and says her presentation will be one audiences can not soon forget. Already, copies of “The Glass Castle” and the follow-up volume, “Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel,” are being snapped up from area book stores and passed from eager reader to eager reader. Even those who do not describe themselves as fans of the printed word are drawn in to the story of Ms. Walls and her three siblings, who knew what it was like to scrounge meals from trash cans, live in minimal housing and cope with parents who were addicted and challenged in their ability to provide for their family on a day-to-day basis.
The second book, which is also making the rounds from reader to reader, is a work of fiction about the author’s maternal grandmother, based on the memories of Ms. Walls’ mother and scraps of information she has been able to glean from those who knew the “frontier” woman, Lily Casey Smith.
Tickets for the banquet are available at Lanzer’s Printing and Office Supply in downtown Union City or by contacting Angie Morrow at 885-0366 or 884-0088 or Kristi Kizer at 446-8422. Tickets will be on sale until March 1 or until they are sold out.
Corporate sponsorships are also available for the speakers banquet. Corporate sponsors will have a centrally located table near the front of the banquet room with a company logo on the table, a complementary copy of “The Glass Castle” for each guest at the table, a framed photo of the author and recognition in the event program and in The Messenger as an elite corporate sponsor. For more information about sponsorships, contact Mrs. Morrow.
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted at glendacaudle @ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 2.4.11