-I spent the whole book trying to decide which parent which worse, so, I was unable to be nonjudgmental. In the end I decided the mom was much worse than the dad. I found the dad to be domineering, patriarchal and misogynistic, but, he loved the kids and I felt wanted to care about them even if he couldn’t, whereas the mother was irresponsible and selfish in ways the father wasn’t, notably when she hid the Hershey bar and ate it when her kids were hungry. She states at another part in the memoir, “it’s not my fault you’re hungry,” completely absolving herself from parental responsibility. When Jeannette talks about Mary Charlene’s death, the parents have very different reactions. The mother shrugs it off with a very c’est la vie attitude, whereas the dad is physically upset. This reinforces my opinion that the dad was incapable but caring, whereas the mother was empty and selfish.
-Both of the parents were troublesome with their views on sex and assault. When her Uncle Stanley starts touching her and masturbating, her mother replies something to the effect of “poor him, he’s so lonely!” Her reaction is also what would today amount to victim blaming. Her dad has a similar, if not worse, attitude in the scene in the bar when he tells her to go up with the drunken man. When she says he attacked her, her father is very nonchalant, telling her to brush it off because nothing happened.
-She and her siblings had a neglectful and abusive childhood, but also had a lot of valuable life lessons. Despite what most people would categorize as child abuse, the kids grew up to be successful and well-adjusted, and stuck by their parents to the end. I’m not sure how I would have handled seeing my mother dumpster-dive, if I would have hid or called out to her.
-Their life and childhood is so opposite to my life experience, and even though I would never trade my life with theirs, and I had many wide-eyed, open-mouth, head-shaking moments while reading, I did feel a certain level of envy for the care-free, do what you want, learn from your mistakes attitude their parents instilled in them, albeit through their neglect. I had a very safe, structured, loving and secure childhood that has carried into my adult life, but she and her siblings are more resourceful and strong-willed than I think I ever will be, which is a byproduct of their life experience.