Part One, A Woman on the Street,
* The author, Jeannette Walls, introduces herself as a successful journalist living and working in New York City.
* Jeannette sees her mother, who is now homeless, digging through a dumpster on the side of the road.
* Jeannette's mother meets her for lunch, where she refuses her offers to help, explaining that she is happy the way she is.
* Jeannette feels ashamed of her mother and somewhat guilty about her now-luxurious lifestyle.
* Jeannette begins telling readers about her chaotic childhood, during which her alcoholic father and flighty mother could not be depended on to provide for their children's basic needs.
Part Two, The Desert, Pages 9-61 ,
* Jeannette describes an incident in which she was cooking unsupervised at the age of three and was severely burned. Her father takes her out of the hospital against medical advice, saying that the doctors don't know what...
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