The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle

A Memoir

Audiobook CD - 2010
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Journalist Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary and their four children lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family. When the money ran out, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town Rex had tried to escape. As the dysfunction escalated, the children had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they found the resources and will to leave home. Yet Walls describes her parents with deep affection in this tale of unconditional love in a family that, despite its profound flaws, gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life.
Publisher: New York : Simon & Schuster, p2010
ISBN: 9781442339705
Characteristics: 8 sound discs (ca. 9 hr.) : digital ; 4 3/4 in


From Library Staff

The child of an alcoholic father and eccentric artist mother discusses her nomadic upbringing as her parents outmaneuvered bill collectors and the authorities.

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IndyPL_SteveB Nov 02, 2018

One of the great American memoirs. Walls was a New York City reporter and a graduate of Barnard College, when she finally told the astonishing truth about her childhood. She and her three siblings had spent a rootless and sometimes homeless childhood wandering the country in poverty as the children of an alcoholic father and a mentally ill mother. Eventually they found a bit of a home in a small West Virginia coal-mining town, living in an abandoned house, while their father kept talking about the “glass castle” he would build for them. Walls was able to use this small amount of steadiness to move to New York City and start college; but her homeless parents followed her. This is a deeply fascinating and moving memoir that shows a very different side of the American Dream.

It also has one of the most attention-grabbing first paragraphs ever: “I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster. It was just after dark. A blustery March wind whipped the steam coming out of the manholes, and people hurried along the sidewalks with their collars turned up. I was stuck in traffic two blocks from the party where I was heading.”

Oct 09, 2018

I read this entire book in a single day. Once I started, I couldn't stop. HIGHLY recommended, especially if you had an unusual childhood. The author truly makes you feel as if you are there with her, and you can feel every ounce of embarrassment, fear, and sadness right along with her. Wonderfully done.

Sep 11, 2018

How does one go from childhood in an extremely dysfunctional home to adulthood as a mature, productive adult? Find out by reading The Glass Castle. This is a thought-provoking, startling book that should make most of us very thankful for our somewhat normal beginnings.

Aug 29, 2018

An amazing, upsetting story! It made me wonder if children I see are up in such a situation. It makes a good case for aid to families, mental health care, social workers, and foster care.

Aug 28, 2018

Wonderful storytelling. It had me captivated within the first couple of pages. This is the first Walls book I've read and now looking forward to reading The Silver Star amongst others.

Aug 08, 2018

didn't read

JCLHeatherM Jul 08, 2018

Jeannette Walls storied life is retold in this intimate memoir, chronicling years of instability, uncertainty, and splashes of pleasure in between. Jeannette's strong family bonds are laid out, for better or for worse, proving that we never leave the family that we were born into. A scrappy fighter, Jeannette made a name for herself and took the positive portion of the life she was dealt.

Jul 06, 2018

Amazing read! Bravo to JW and her siblings for their ability to overcome a million obstacles and be successful by their own hard-earned right. This book has 288 pages...on at least 200 of them I was saying OMG to myself...this was some crazy stuff. Still more shockers near the end.

All their achievements in the end made me so happy. JW describes her parents...'lived unruly lives battling authority and who liked it that way'. Her Mom drove me wild with her blazé/self-centered attitude!

Look forward to the movie. I recommend this to anyone as I enjoyed it even though I rarely read from this genre.

Jun 20, 2018

This book is hard to put down! Although some pages are hard to read, you can feel the sense of hope in the writing style of Walls. A horrific childhood but a true story of resilience and determination. After you have finished the book, be sure to check online for videos of Walls and her siblings.

May 14, 2018

Oh. My. Goodness.

I devoured this book. Jeannette Walls offers her own life story in a way that sits you right in the midst of her family. It's a beautiful and painful story of her family making it work through setback after setback. It's laid out for the reader as a gift wrapped in newspaper just like her mother used to do. Except the story that's inside is anything but ordinary. Walls' father is a genius with a tragic taste for alchol. Her mother is a suffering artist in so many ways. Her siblings are tough and absolute survivors.

If you've never read a memoir, start here. It's honestly one of the best I've ever read.

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Oct 09, 2018

The Glass Castle is a story about the author's rather dysfunctional childhood and how she, along with her siblings, overcame challenges from childhood through adulthood. From the very first page, she is able to capture exactly how she felt in pivotal moments perfectly, allowing the reader to feel exactly as she felt - embarrassed, sad, afraid, and, in some cases, happy.

As children, the Walls took care of themselves. Their parents, under the premise of making them strong, often did questionable and downright abusive things. The story is spread across the author's entire childhood and ventures into her adult life, and it's an amazing tale of how her perception of her mother and father changes throughout the years. Despite her troubles, the love she felt for her parents never faltered.

Anyone who grew up in a dysfunctional household or with an alcoholic parent will be able to relate to the way the author simultaneously loves, doubts, and sometimes loathes her father. Anyone who grew up with a self-absorbed mother will relate to the way the author explains her own mother's eccentric, self-involved, and somehow still loving ways. It's one of the most relatable books I've ever read.

May 18, 2017

The story revolves mostly around the childhood of the author. It describes the nomadic lifestyle of the Walls and how the children have learned to grow without their parents' support. The Glass Castle is mainly telling the dysfunctional connections in this dysfunctional family.

Jun 19, 2015

A journalist remembers her challenging, unconventional and impoverished childhood & the family with whom she shared these challenges.

Bonavista May 06, 2011

I loved that she went through so much as a child and teenager but still held the faith the whole time and came out of it. I think, a better person for it.

carlakacz May 03, 2011

This was a very intriguing book to read, a glimpse into someones life that is almost unbelievable.

Feb 16, 2011

Remarkable memoir of resilence and redemption and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeanette's brillant and charismatic father catured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishones and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family. The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed and protected one another and eventually found their way to New York.Their parents followed them choosing to be homeless even as their children propsered.


Add Age Suitability

May 18, 2017

jmli thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Nov 17, 2014

MADKC4Ever thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

ellegibson Jul 17, 2014

ellegibson thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

orange_squirrel_4 Aug 23, 2013

orange_squirrel_4 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Ninja_Kevin Jun 17, 2012

Ninja_Kevin thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


Add Notices

Aug 04, 2017

Coarse Language: Jeanette's father does tend to cuss frequently.

May 18, 2017

Sexual Content: 2 somewhat sexual scenes in regards to the protagonist.


Add a Quote

May 18, 2017

"It's the Joshua tree's struggle that gives it its beauty." - Rose Mary Wells

Nov 17, 2014

"I'm not upset because I'll miss you," Mom said. "I'm upset because you get to go to New York and I'm stuck here. It's not fair."

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