Author’s hardships through life spark Shared Read program

Author Jeannette Walls plans to discuss her memoir, The Glass Castle, on Wed. Nov. 12. It is Rider’s first year participating in the Shared Read program.

By Alyssa Naimoli

The first chapter of The Glass Castle introduces the chilling, inspiring story of Jeannette Walls. Riding in a limousine after leaving her Park Avenue apartment to attend a party, she notices a homeless woman digging through the trash. It’s her mother — and it’s not the first time this has happened.

Wall’s memoir is a book that administrators hope will inspire students and keep them aware of life’s many challenges. A committee, which included Dean Ira Mayo, decided it would make the perfect selection for the Shared Read program.

“The book details her difficult circumstances growing up, and the story is one of overcoming adversity and obstacles thrown in your path,” said Mayo.

Walls will be visiting Rider to speak to students in the Cavalla Room about her book and hardships. This lecture and book signing is concluding Rider’s first Shared Read event.

“This program was brought to us by our Provost, Dr. DonnaJean Fredeen, who has said a number of times that the hallmark of an educated person is the ability to read and discuss,” said Mayo. “The shared reading program served as a vehicle to get the entire campus talking.”

Fredeen adopted the Shared Read program from her last institution and said it would be a “great way to build community among the students and faculty and staff here at Rider University.”

Walls’ book, which has been awarded the Christopher Award, the American Library Association’s Alex Award and the Books for Better Living Award, explores many obstacles that life might throw at someone, such as racism, homelessness, alcoholism and poverty. The book maintains that, despite any setbacks one might face, it is still possible to rise above and conquer any bad situation.

“Above all, it’s a human story and a story about triumph in the face of adversity,” said Mayo. “This book grabs your attention from page one, and we knew that readers would want to keep reading until the end.”

Walls’ lecture will address many social issues, as well as her experiences that are featured in her novel. A Q&A will also be conducted.

“It is not often that students have the chance to interact with an award-winning, best-selling author,” said Mayo. “Jeannette Walls knows that the entire campus was invited to read the book, and she is excited to talk to our students and to answer their questions.”

Fredeen describes Walls as an excellent speaker, calling her “very engaging, very entertaining and funny,” after seeing Walls speak at a previous event.

Walls will be arriving a little earlier than her lecture because beforehand she will be having dinner with a small group of students and faculty members.

Following the dinner, Walls will begin her lecture and will then answer students’ questions. Afterwards she will be signing copies of The Glass Castle.

All students are encouraged to join in this event to hear Walls’ story and successes despite her obstacles.

This is the first of many Shared Read events on campus. The administration will be working together to find another book for next year. All students are encouraged to take part in the experience.

Students are encouraged to hear the rest of Walls’ story during her lecture discussion and book signing on Nov. 12 at 6:45 p.m., and Walls herself is eager to hear the thoughts and questions students have about The Glass Castle.


Printed in the 11/12/14 edition.

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