Jeanette Walls begins her memoir with a sad picture of her parents. From the beginning, her parents are homeless, and Walls is ashamed of them. By showing us a kind of ending in the beginning, Walls removes the thought that the memoir is about where she ended up. Instead, the central question is about why she and her family ended up where they did. In order to answer that question, Walls needed to start in her early childhood. The memoir is an exploration of how childhoods shape us, as well as how love can come in many different forms, not all of them healthy. By exploring these themes, Walls is attempting to understand her past. The scene in the beginning of the memoir, again, sets the reader up for these questions and positions the narrator to look backward in time rather than forward from the eyes of a young Jeanette.