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The Glass Castle: A Memoir

by Jeannette Walls

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
18,350756206 (4.15)757
Jeannette Walls tells the story about her childhood. She talks about living like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Retreating to the dismal West Virginia mining town--and the family-- her father, 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.… (more)
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» See also 757 mentions

English (742)  French (3)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  Piratical (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (752)
Showing 1-5 of 742 (next | show all)
Read this for a book club and really enjoyed it. I wonder how she turned out somewhat normal. ( )
  KyleneJones | Apr 25, 2022 |
This is a really good book. It's a memoir about a family of six who lived in extreme poverty by choice. (At least, by the parents' choice. The four children, one of whom being the author, got out of the house and earned their own living as soon as they were old enough.) The parents were intelligent, charismatic, but extremely irresponsible regarding the care of their children and their financial situation. The dad was an alcoholic. The mom was an artist who just....didn't want the discipline and responsibility that comes with a job. The couple had some unique parenting philosophy about not protecting children too much and let them fend for themselves. So they REALLY didn't take measures to protect their children from harm :P There were vignettes in the book that seemed like borderline child abuse. But there were also moments where the dad's knowledge and imagination inspired the children so much, or where the mom's love for books and distain of materialism shaped the children's intellectual development and values.

My favorite part of the book is after the dad passed away, the author wrote about her grief and loss in a "show, don't tell" way. It was really good. She writes well.

Another thing about the book that left lasting impression was how the parents voluntarily chose to be homeless in New York City for years. The mom told the author, "It's sort of the city's fault. They make it too easy to be homeless. If it was really unbearable, we'd do something different." LOL! They ate at various soup kitchens or churches that passed out sandwiches. They washed and read books at public libraries. They fished newspapers from trash cans and looked up free events to attend-- plays, operas, concerts in parks, performance in office building lobbies, movie screenings, museums. They slept in homeless shelters, pews of churches that opened their doors to the homeless, bushes that lined park paths, on park benches. ( )
  CathyChou | Mar 11, 2022 |
This was an unsettling and upsetting book to read. I am glad to say it is difficult for me to identify with parents who were so selfish, and with the people who enable them (my fortune at birth). I am not saying I would have acted in any other way with the upbringing the author was given, as, thank goodness, I had a much better one. I am just VERY thankful that I wasn't put to that kind of test. We were poor, but well cared for. I am just glad for the author that she was strong enough to be able to make better choices and a better life for herself. I am not making judgments (please don't read that into this review - no child should ever have had to do what was required of her); it was just very trying for me to read. ( )
  Wren73 | Mar 4, 2022 |
This is my favorite book to quote from when I teach memoir writing to adults. An amazing story, very well-told. A must read for characterization. ( )
  AngelaLam | Feb 8, 2022 |
i absolutely loved this book.
with a rare and remarkable lack of self-pity, ms walls writes of her unforgettable childhood.
through all of it i felt, and despite all their flaws, the love this family had for each other....

i absolutely f***ing loved this book. ( )
  chickpea75 | Feb 5, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 742 (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.
 

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jeannette Wallsprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gibson, JuliaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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Wikipedia in English (3)

Jeannette Walls tells the story about her childhood. She talks about living like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Retreating to the dismal West Virginia mining town--and the family-- her father, 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.

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Book description
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.
-Novelist
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