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The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
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The Glass Castle (edition 2005)

by Jeannette Walls

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14,328639141 (4.15)666
Member:maritimer
Title:The Glass Castle
Authors:Jeannette Walls
Info:Scribner (2005), Edition: First, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Your library, 2013
Rating:****
Tags:None

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The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

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English (630)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (637)
Showing 1-5 of 630 (next | show all)
Excellent writing and fabulous detail. Ms. Walls tells her story of poverty, chaos and love with wit, good nature and tenderness. I couldn't put her memoir down. ( )
  sunnydrk | Sep 23, 2016 |
The Glass Castle Review By Screenmaster1
I was first introduced to The Glass Castle By Jeannette Walls in an English class when my teacher read us a excerpt of the book. It quickly managed to grab my attention with its interesting plot and unique storytelling. The Glass Castle is a auto biography telling of Walls life in a dysfunctional family. I wasn't a big fan of the beginning but I can see where having a quick chapter about the present could be useful to help the story flow. I,however, was excited to learn about her childhood. I will tell you the story has a ending that will leave you feeling satisfied with Walls' adventurers

A part of this book I enjoyed was Walls' decision to move to New York and the events that followed. I got this feeling that everything was finally going to come together. She had gotten away from a place she despised living in she was more or less free. I couldn't help but be impressed with how much thought and planning was put into this decision. "That night Lori and I lay in our rope beds and discussed New York."

Another interesting aspect of this story is Walls' connection with her father. In the beginning of the book she knew she was her fathers favorite. The only one who understood him so to speak. But as her father become more and more out of it,his alcoholism spiraling more and more out of control her bond with her father was tested and she felt less and less close to him. Which may of been a factor in her choice to leave the family for good and head to New York. "I knew more about Dad's situation then they did because he talked to me more then anyone else in the family." "Why are you doing this to us dad? Why?"

A theme that was well established in this book was family. That might sound surprising considering this is a book about a dysfunctional family but I think the idea of family is still present within this book. The siblings all banded together to feed protect and clothe each other when their parents couldn't be trusted to do the task. Then the siblings all banded together again to bring each other to New York. And even after all that happened the kids still wanted to help there parents and make sure they were doing well. "He never said anything,but I think he figured that,as when we were kids,we stood a better chance if we took on the world together."

Overall I really liked this book. Walls' is an amazing storyteller and made her somewhat sad and depressing life an adventure to read. If you like books about struggles with a dysfunctional family or autobiographies in general you'll enjoy this one. Its one of the best books of this genre. ( )
  Screenmaster1 | Sep 11, 2016 |
Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

I thought it was a well written book. Ms Walls describes herself and her siblings suffering a lifetime of criminal neglect in a dysfunctional way that establishes mental and physical abuse. Ms Walls somehow was able to describe her upbringing objectively, yet without detachment. There were moments when she actually began to feel compassion toward her parents. Jeanette had times where she was tested time and again to stand up to her parents but not until she was in collage she started setting some rules for her parents. Plus, there were moments when she and her siblings felt terrible and showed their concern and unconditional love when their parents were living on the street.

Some of the details of what they were all going through were really sad and brought back memories of my childhood in a dysfunctional environment. I don’t know how Jeanette was able to write this story with passion, love, and strength describing some of the scenes her childhood and her family’s situations with almost a calm and strong altitude as just living one day at a time. I also lived one day at a time and I did forgave my parents before they died but the neglect, emotional and physical abuse I’ve tried to put it in the past but it’s hard. I have memory problems and wished those were the memories I forgot but that never happened. Jeanette Walls childhood is similar to mine and I also had a dad who tested me to the limits even throughout my marriage.

The Glass Castle was an exceptional story and I understand what she and her family went through and I appreciate how well Ms. Walls was able to create and describe her story. During her process of telling her story it must had been hard and she must have felt some anger. However, she never described any intense anger but if she felt it I wish she would have written about that issue also. ( )
  Juan-banjo | Sep 8, 2016 |
One of my favorite memoirs. Fascinating description of a (partially) difficult childhood. ( )
  valzi | Sep 7, 2016 |
I couldn't put this book down.

I generally don't read books on the subway because I get a little motion sick, but I was so engrossed with this one that even nausea couldn't get me to stop reading it, not even for a moment.

It's both heartbreaking and amazing. ( )
  kathleenbarber | Aug 8, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 630 (next | show all)
''The Glass Castle'' falls short of being art, but it's a very good memoir. At one point, describing her early literary tastes, Walls mentions that ''my favorite books all involved people dealing with hardships.'' And she has succeeded in doing what most writers set out to do -- to write the kind of book they themselves most want to read.
 
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Epigraph
Dark is a way and light is a place,
Heaven that never was
Nor will be ever is always true
-Dylan Thomas
"Poem on His Birthday"
Dedication
To John, for convincing me that everyone who is interesting has a past
First words
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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The author recalls her life growing up in a dysfunctional family with an alcoholic father and distant mother and describes how she and her siblings had to fend for themselves until they finally found the resources and will to leave home.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 074324754X, Paperback)

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.

An exclusive Q&A with Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle

Q: How long did it take you to write The Glass Castle and what was that process like?

A: Writing about myself, and about intensely personal and potentially embarrassing experiences, was unlike anything I’d done before. Over the last 25 years, I wrote many versions of this memoir -- sometimes pounding out 220 pages in a single weekend. But I always threw out the pages. At one point I tried to fictionalize it, but that didn't work either.

When I was finally ready, I wrote it entirely on the weekends, getting to my desk by 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. and continuing until 6:00 or 7:00 p.m. I wrote the first draft in about six weeks -- but then I spent three or four years rewriting it. My husband, John Taylor, who is also a writer, observed all this approvingly and quoted John Fowles, who said that a book should be like a child: conceived in passion and reared with care.

Q: How did you decide to follow The Glass Castle with Half Broke Horses?

A: It was completely at the suggestion of readers. So many people kept saying the next book should be about my mother. Readers understood my father's recklessness because they understood alcoholism, but Mom was a mystery to them. Why, they would ask, would someone with the resources to lead a normal life choose the existence that she did?

I would tell them a little bit about my mother’s childhood. She not only knew that she could survive without indoor plumbing, but that was the ideal period of her life, a time that she tries to recreate. I think that for memoir readers, it's not about a freak show– they’re just looking to understand people and get into a life that’s not their own. I thought, let me give it a shot, let me ask Mom. And she was all for it. But she kept insisting that the book should really be about her mother. At first I resisted because my grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, died when I was eight years old, more than 40 years ago. But I have a very vivid memory of this tough, leathery woman; she sang, she danced, she shot guns, she’d play honky tonk piano. I was always captivated by her. Lily had told such compelling stories—I was stunned by the number of anecdotes, and that Mom knew so much detail about them. Half Broke Horses is a compilation of family stories, stitched together with gaps filled in. They're the sort of tales that pretty much everyone has heard from their parents or grandparents. I realized that in telling Lily's story, I could also explain Mom's.

Q: Why did you decide to write Half Broke Horses in the first person, and how much of this "true-life novel" is fiction?

A: I set out to write a biography of Lily, but sometimes books take on a life of their own. I told it in first person because I wanted to capture Lily’s voice. I’m a lot like my grandmother, so it came easily to me. I planned to go back and change it from first person to third person and put in qualifiers so the book would be historically accurate, but when I showed it to my agent and publisher, they both said to leave it as it is. By doing that, I crossed the line from nonfiction into fiction. But when I call it fiction it’s not because I tarted it up and tried to embellish things, but wanted to make it more readable, fluid, and immediate. I was trying to get as close to the truth as I could.

Q: How has your relationship with your mother changed in recent years?

A: Several years ago, the abandoned building on New York’s Lower East Side where Mom had been squatting for more than a decade caught fire and she was back on the streets again at age 72. I begged her to come live with me. She said Virginia was too boring, and besides, she's not a freeloader. I told her we could really use help with the horses, and she said she'd be right there. I get along great with Mom now. She's a hoot. She's always upbeat, and has a very different take on life than most people. She's a lot of fun to be around -- as long as you're not looking for her to take care of you. She doesn’t live in the house with us-- I have not reached that level of understanding and compassion-- but in an outbuilding about a hundred yards away. Mom is great with the animals, loves to sing and dance and ride horses, and is still painting like a fiend.

Q: What do you hope readers will gain from reading your books?

A:Since writing The Glass Castle, so many people have said to me, "Oh, you’re so strong and you’re so resilient, and I couldn’t do what you did." That’s very flattering, but it’s nonsense. Of course they’re as strong as I am. I just had the great fortune of having been tested. If we look at our ancestry, we all come from tough roots. And one of the ways to discover our toughness and our resiliency is to look back at where we come from. I hope people who read The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses will come away with that. You know, "Gosh, I come from hearty stock. Maybe I’m tougher than I realize."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:50 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In the tradition of Mary Karr's "The Liars' Club" and Rick Bragg's "All Over But the Shouting," Jeannette Walls has written a stunning and life-affirming memoir about surviving a willfully impoverished, eccentric and severely misguided family. The child of an alcoholic father and an eccentric artist mother discusses her family's nomadic upbringing, during which she and her siblings fended for themselves while their parents outmaneuvered bill collectors and the authorities.… (more)

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