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Jeanette Walls at Book Festival

MSNBC gossip columnist Jeanette Walls grew up in McDowell County, and today, she came to Charleston. Wall’s life now of hanging out with some of Hollywood's biggest stars is a far cry from her childhood digging though trash cans for food. It’s a message we can all relate to.

Ask the people who've read The Glass Castle, and they'll tell you they can't put it down.

Relating. Those are words Jeanette Walls is humbled to hear from a reader. But for so many years, her story of poverty in the most pure form was a painful source of shame.

“I was so ashamed and I was so embarrassed,” said Walls. “And now saying hey everybody has something, it's taken me out of my isolation.”

With a sense of humor and a whole lot of courage, the pages of Walls’ memoir are opening eyes and sending a message.

Ian Hedges and Abigail Kerns are just 16-years-old.

“Reading this book has made me look around more and realize that we all come from different areas and people aren't always who they seem,” said Kerns.

English teacher Sallye Clark assigned the book for summer reading. She had no idea her students would still be talking about it late in the fall.

“No matter what we do, we can connect it back to Jeanette Walls or her story,” said Clark.

“My father’s lies were just that, and I had to face reality,” said Walls. “And that's not an entirely bad thing - to face reality.”

Reaching for whatever the best that reality can bring you.

“Don't wait for somebody to go out and build that castle for you, honey go out and build it yourself,” said Walls.

A lesson from a little girl who did just that.


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