Two Unforgettable Auto-Biographies
One for Your Teen to Read and One for You to Read
Book Recommendation For Teens
For the last 12 years, the most checked out teen book in the Walden III School Library has been A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer. It is one of only a few teen books that has to be replaced every year due to extensive check outs. What draws teens to the book? It is a compelling, autobiographical story of one of the most severe cases of child abuse that took place in California in the 1970’s. David Pelzer grew up with a weak, alcoholic father and a mentally, unstable mother. His mother routinely beat and starved David and confined him to their dark, damp basement. The story is one that hooks the reader in with the opening sentence. I tell students, “Don’t start this at night because you won’t be able to put it down.”
Book Recommendation for Adults
Along the same lines is the adult book, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Since reading The Child Called It, twelve years ago, I haven’t been as captivated by an autobiography. It is a memoir of Jeannette Wall’s growing up in a dysfunctional, eccentric, and creative family. Her father, an alcoholic, and her mother ,who prefers painting and writing, over the responsibility of taking care of her four children drag the children out of their beds late at night to move to another state and run down house when the creditors and law come frequently knocking at their door. It gets even worse when they move back to West Virginia and live in a shack with a leaking roof and no indoor plumbing in a holler. Like the book, The Child Called It, this book grabs the reader from the first page. I couldn’t put it down when I started it and finished it the same day. It would be a great book for a book club read.
Both books are unforgettable stories about triumph over adversity. These are compelling stories that you and your teen will want to talk about. Teens are drawn to these types of books and this gives you as a parent an opportunity to connect and communicate with your teen about an important social issue. I recommend A Child Called It for both teen and adult readers and The Glass Castle to adult readers. But as I said before, “Don’t start either of these books at night. You won’t be able to put them down.”