Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they 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 physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.
Showing 1-10 of the 22 most recent reviews
1 . The Glass Castle
Posted July 09, 2013 by Debra , JacksonvilleThe writing in The Glass Castle is brilliant, the prose effective, and the story captivating. Here's a quote from the book: "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."
2 . The Glass Castle
Posted July 08, 2013 by Shu , KansasThis is a very sad story. I feel very bad for Jeannette Walls. I do not think she feels bad for herself though. This makes her very honorable. I liked this book very much.
3 . The Glass Castle
Posted July 07, 2013 by Noor , AtlantaA forceful story. Not a bedtime story though, at least not for me. I didn't want to go to sleep with the extreme images of poverty and hunger described in The Glass Castle.
4 . The Glass Castle
Posted July 06, 2013 by Lotte , JacksonvilleBe prepared to be angry that anyone would raise their children in the manner described in The Glass Castle. That aside, the memoir is brilliant and told with great honesty.
5 . Not an easy read emotionally
Posted July 04, 2013 by Vivaan , South BendNot an easy read emotionally, but still I couldn't put it down. The prose just carried me along and I could not wait to see what her mother and father would get up to next.
6 . Good
Posted July 03, 2013 by Tobia , MiamiDespite the subject matter, this book is quick and easy to read. When I was done with it, I wanted to call up my parents and thank them for not being like Jeannette Walls' parents.
7 . Gripping
Posted July 01, 2013 by Fatima , DenverA brilliant memoir. Walls is a genius with words. The details are gripping, the style fast and engrossing. It would be hard not to like this book.
8 . Remarkable!
Posted July 29, 2011 by Nanette , Drexel Hill, PaAs a child of a "unusual" upbringing myself this frank and beautifully written memoir is such an eloquent perspective that my own ideas about my childhood will be forever changed by having read it. More thought provoking than depressing I actually found this to be strengthening and the author admirable for her strengths and open writing style. Perhaps the best memoir I have yet read.
9 . Depressing but well written
Posted April 03, 2011 by Jan E , Carmel, IndianaDepressing but well written. I did finish it with no problem. It was a book club selection.
Kept my attention. A memoir of a sadly dysfunctional family. I expected some inspirational ending but found none.
10 . Want more!
Posted February 12, 2011 by Yadira , San DiegoAnother book of hers that I just loved. Wish she would come up with more interesting stories from her past. Such interesting lives
January 01, 2006
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