A Tender, Moving Tale Of Unconditional Love In A Family That, Despite Its Profound Flaws, Gave The Author The Fiery Determination To Carve Out A Successful Life On Her Own TermsJeannette 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 My sister saw The Glass Castle on my coffee table and said, Oh, I read that It s kind ofthen she paused and we both were awkwardly silent for a minute Well, I was going to say, it s kind of like us, a little bit, but not Yeah, I said I wasn t going to say it because not all of it Yeah, not all of it We didn t talk about it again When I first saw this book, I think I died a little inside because of the cover I didn t hate The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood like My sister saw The Glass Castle on my coffee table and said, Oh, I read that It s kind ofthen she paused and we both were awkwardly silent for a minute Well, I was going to say, it s kind of like us, a little bit, but not Yeah, I said I wasn t going to say it because not all of it Yeah, not all of it We didn t talk about it again When I first saw this book, I think I died a little inside because of the cover I didn t hate The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood like I hated The Mermaid Chair or shudder Bastard out of Carolina, but when there s a little girl on the cover of a book, looking all innocent, it s like a movie with the word Education in the title You just know you re in for a published trip to the psychiatrist s couch Kiddy sex and soul searching I m not saying people shouldn t tell their stories I mean, look at me, I m all up in your website telling my stories , but I do think people should get a handle on what their story is before they try to tell it Or at least before they make me read it Sorry, that s kind of asshole ish of me to say, but I just think a lot of books with innocent little girls on the cover are really arrogant They have this sense that since some man did something horrifying, everything that women do, including dancing around a fire with girlfriends or taking exotic lovers, is just part of the loving circle of nature s healing I am such a fan of women, and so I take it personally when we look like morons This book has absolutely nothing in common with its cover I haven t written a review of it before because I think it is a perfect book, and how do you review a perfect book I m like Wayne and Garth when they meet Alice Cooper This book is my Alice Cooper I m sure it wouldn t be everyone s Alice Cooper, but to me this is exactly what a book should be Everything about the book is simple, concise, and action packed It makes me laugh and it makes me cry The people are incredible, but deep and smart and human In some ways, I think this book is the Great American Story, but it s the story none of us talk about and all of us live In other ways, the book is so specific and personal to the Walls family that I never would have imagined the stories if I had not been told them Virginia Woolf and Rainer Maria Rilke, two of the wisest people I have read, both ask when and how women will be able to tell stories without being self conscious that they are women How can we write, or even live, not as reactions to men, but as separate masters of our own experiences I don t know where the genders are on the space time continuum of respecting each other, and I think there are probably gender related specifics to any story maybe that s just natural and not even bad , but there is something about this book that is just human and strong It is compassionate and unflinching Oh, I hate adjectives Just, read the first chapter of this book, and if you don t think it s compelling, don t keep reading because it s probably not for you My family was nomadic, like Jeannette Walls s family, but, like I say, all of her stories, and my stories, are unique When I last lived with my parents, it struck me that we never really understand other people s relationships with each other I grew up, probably as many of us did, thinking that my parents never really got along and that my mom was a victim of my dad s anger and wild scheming But, later, I realized they probably both got something that I never understood out of their relationship I think a lot of this book is about how we know the people we are close to and, also, never really do how it is useless to hold other people to our own standards of what love or responsibility looks like But, still, it is about holding each other responsible Or, maybe the book is just about her family with no real moral lesson at all Walls is so loyal to her stories in an almost scientific way None of the adult outrage that contaminates so many stories of children creeps into Walls s She tells you what happened, and maybe how she felt about it at the time, but she doesn t impose emotion on the reader Here s just a small part well, actually, halfI couldn t resist of the first chapter to give you a little taste Mom was sitting at a booth, studying the menu, when I arrived She d made an effort to fix herself up She wore a bulky gray sweater with only a few light stains, and black leather men s shoes She d washed her face, but her neck and temples were still dark with grime.She waved enthusiastically when she saw me It s my baby girl she called out I kissed her cheek Mom had dumped all the plastic packets of soy sauce and duck sauce and hot and spicy mustard from the table into her purse Now she emptied a wooden bowl of dried noodles into it as well A little snack for later on, she explained.We ordered Mom chose the Seafood Delight You know how I love my seafood, she said.She started talking about Picasso She d seen a retrospective of his work and decided he was hugely overrated All the cubist stuff was gimmicky, as far as she was concerned He hadn t really done anything worthwhile after his Rose Period I m worried about you, I said Tell me what I can do to help Her smile faded What makes you think I need your help I m not rich, I said But I have some money Tell me what it is you need She thought for a moment I could use an electrolysis treatment Be serious I am serious If a woman looks good, she feels good Come on, Mom I felt my shoulders tightening up, the way they invariably did during these conversations I m talking about something that could help you change your life, make it better You want to help me change my life Mom asked I m fine You re the one who needs help Your values are all confused Mom, I saw you picking through trash in the East Village a few days ago Well, people in this country are too wasteful It s my way of recycling She took a bite of her Seafood Delight Why didn t you say hello I was too ashamed, Mom I hid Mom pointed her chopsticks at me You see she said Right there That s exactly what I m saying You re way too easily embarrassed Your father and I are who we are Accept it And what am I supposed to tell people about my parents Just tell the truth, Mom said That s simple enough It s been a while since I read this book, so a lot of the stories aren t fresh in my mind, but some are so vivid to me that I think of them whenever I see a trash can or think of the desert In high school, I thought that American history was the most boring topic imaginable Then, in college, I took a class called the History of Women in the U.S., and I realized that I think the history of industry and conquest is mind numbing, but the history of actual people is riveting The Glass Castle is a real, honest history or as honest as histories can be of people in America It is so close to me and so foreign in just the way this country is It is also, in a way, a tribute to family oral histories My dad has alooserelationship with the truth, as I ve probably mentioned on this site before In the past couple of years, every time I see one of my siblings, we sit around and tell stories from my dad or about my dad, trying to weed out what actually happened, what got a nice polish in the story factory, and what is an outright lie I get that same feeling from this book of siblings sitting around and saying, Do you rememberand You weren t there this one timeor No, that s just what Dad said happened, what actually happened wasI m sure someday, my siblings and I will put together a history of our own, since every one of us seems to have inherited the storytelling gene Whatever I write will be in some way inspired by this book Now I get why people like this memoir so much.Though it is a memoir and a true story, both the writing style and the way Walls reminisces about her childhood make it seem likeof a fairy tale My favourite non fiction books are those that don t lose the compelling flow of a good fiction book that still pull you into another world and life, dragging you along for the ride This is one of those.I especially liked reading about Walls complex and conflicting thoughts about her parents and ch Now I get why people like this memoir so much.Though it is a memoir and a true story, both the writing style and the way Walls reminisces about her childhood make it seem likeof a fairy tale My favourite non fiction books are those that don t lose the compelling flow of a good fiction book that still pull you into another world and life, dragging you along for the ride This is one of those.I especially liked reading about Walls complex and conflicting thoughts about her parents and childhood When she s writing about her youth, she writes with the rose tinted glasses of a young girl who loves her family as she grows, she begins to see the shadows of reality creeping in her father s alcoholism, her mother s selfish behaviour, the lack of food in the cupboards as a parental failure and not a normality And, through it all, she still loves her parents She remembers her father as an intelligent man full of fantastical stories, and her mother as a spirited artist It s interesting, though, how differently I felt toward them Normally, a convincing story has me feeling the same way as the narrator, but even though I could understand Walls s love for her parents, I despised them for being selfish and neglectful I hated them for allowing a 3 year old to use the stove and cause herself serious burns I felt extreme anger, not love and understanding, towards them.But that s not a criticism The Glass Castle is a beautifully written, emotional read A true bildungsroman, full of dark and happy times.Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube Store Another Update I just saw the movie I liked it Woody Harrelson Brie Larsonand Naomi Watts were all great I thought they got the important duel emotions just right On one end the parents did not protect their kids appropriately at all lots of crazy dangerous chaos On the other end there was no question the parents loved wholeheartedly their children AND there were some great gifts they gave their children so our emotions are mixed At the end of the movie when they show Another Update I just saw the movie I liked it Woody Harrelson Brie Larsonand Naomi Watts were all great I thought they got the important duel emotions just right On one end the parents did not protect their kids appropriately at all lots of crazy dangerous chaos On the other end there was no question the parents loved wholeheartedly their children AND there were some great gifts they gave their children so our emotions are mixed At the end of the movie when they show the real Jeanette Walls her mom plus wonderful photos of the kids growing up it s very touching Update I just read some place that a movie is being made of this book I want to share something about my relationship with The Glass Castle that I ve shared with a few people on this site but never with the larger community I read this book in 2006 It was a gift from a friend She mailed it to me from New York She said YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK The book had only been out about a week I wasn t much of a reader.My friend knew me well knew about my childhood and said you will read this book.Paul and I were leaving for Harbin Hot Springs a regular get a way place for us at the time I took The Glass Castle with me I mentioned in my other little review that I read it while sitting under a tree The author became my hero What I didn t say was I then read another book, right away I liked it too Then another book Then another I HAD NOT BEEN A READER UNTIL THIS BOOK I m not saying this was the best book in the entire world but it was great , but I m saying something happened to me I have been reading book after book after book never NOT reading a book since 2006 Looking back, I m thankful the following few books were all good experiences Had they been awful books.I might not have kept reading Having several good books under my belt, if I hit a book I didn t like later on, I didn t worry any longer I knew reading was enjoyable I felt comfort in ways I couldn t explain I wanted to call my long time friend reader friends from Jr High School Lisi, Renee, Ron friends who were always reading and say. why didn t you tell me why didn t you tell me how intimate personal WONDERFUL READING WAS Now, as an adult, I was not reading for a class.or a grade I wasn t reading to please anyone I m still clear I have holes in my education I KNOW I m a LATE BLOOMER READER. For many many years of reading these past years I still wasn t sure if I would call myself a reader I just knew I was always reading Point is I found READING LATE IN LIFE Its NEVER TOO LATE.Nobody can take away something you really enjoy I may not be the smartest cookie in the room but I mhonored to be in the room I love to hear from THE FLASHLIGHT READERS Oh my gosh you guys have such great childhood reading memories I melt hearing them sometimes cry.I love to hear from the READERS whose parents read to you OFTEN as a child.I love to hear about books YOUR parents gave youI love to hear about books Members share with their childrenI love to CHAT about books we love together this si get to participate with you now I love to read too If I left this site tomorrow I d still have reading I d still have friends to chat about with about books.Its real now I read THIS BOOK for whatever reason kicked my new reading habit into high gear So, I m very thankful to Jeannette Walls she changed my life Any 3 year old who tries to cook her own hot dog on the kitchen stove alone my god bless the little girl Jeannette was has me melting in the palm of her hands Thanks its never too late to become a reader Agree with my friend, Victoria who just read the book and wrote a 5 star review 5 stars I read this book sittng under a tree at Harbin Hot Springs one summer Jeannette Walls became my hero This memoir has to be one of the most unique memoirs I ve ever read.Jeannette Walls shares the raw and honest story of her childhood leading up to adulthood She was raised in a highly dysfunctional family with her three siblings Her parents were like nomads and just couldn t really settle down Jeannette s mother loved to read, paint, and had a teaching degree, but most of the time she refused to work She viewed work as a waste of time Her dad was a very intelligent man who did indeed work o This memoir has to be one of the most unique memoirs I ve ever read.Jeannette Walls shares the raw and honest story of her childhood leading up to adulthood She was raised in a highly dysfunctional family with her three siblings Her parents were like nomads and just couldn t really settle down Jeannette s mother loved to read, paint, and had a teaching degree, but most of the time she refused to work She viewed work as a waste of time Her dad was a very intelligent man who did indeed work off and on, but he was an alcoholic and at times abusive He had delusions of grandeur and thought he could find scads of gold to get rich and build the family a glass castleWhen Dad wasn t telling us about all the amazing things he had already done, he was telling us about the wondrous things he was going to do Like build the Glass Castle Regardless of their living conditions, whether the children had clothes or food to eat, and regardless of their safety, nothing seemed to faze Jeannette s parents They expected their children to find ways to take care of themselves Jeannette was often thrust into doing adult things as a child, beginning with cooking hotdogs on the stove at the young age of three, resulting in multiple serious burns on her body and leading to a hospital stay This is just the beginningJust remember, Mom said after examining the blisters, what doesn t kill you will make you stronger If that was true, I d be Hercules by now, Lori said I had multiple emotions throughout reading this book It becomes fairly obvious throughout reading Jeannette s story that her parents have some serious mental health issues It s unclear what type of upbringing her father received, but there may have been some abuse that he never truly got over I felt that I could somewhat relate to this having an alcoholic father myself , but it s always been such a challenge for me to accept a person s past as an excuse for their behavior today As for Jeannette, she s just the opposite, and very forgiving toward her parents Throughout the book you don t always get a sense of how she s feeling You can tell certain times when she gets older that she experiences anger toward both parents, but she rarely cries and is so incredibly strong and resilient She never stops loving her parents, but her and her siblings know that eventually they have to devise a plan get away.Being a parent is hard and I surely don t want to criticize Jeannette s parents, but I had such a hard time understanding some of their decisions Aside from the neglect and starvation, when it came to exposing the children to dangerous people deliberately putting them in harm s way I had serious issues It went too far at that point and I had a very difficult time reading those parts, but at the same time, I found myselfaccepting of some of their morals After all, nothing good can come from hating someone in your heartI hate Erma, I told Mom You have to show compassion for her She added that you should never hate anyone, even your worst enemies Everyone has something good about them, she said You have to find the redeeming quality and love the person for that Their parents do love them and the children learn a great deal from them including multiple survival skills They develop a love for reading, and they also learned ways to entertain themselves They learn responsibility and how to care for themselves because nobody else is going to do it for them They experience adventure and there are, without a doubt, some wonderful family times together, but some extremely scary times as well Obviously it s good to have children who are self reliant, but there were some huge risks taken Just where do you draw the line This book is written really well and I could barely put it down I didn t want it to end and cravedJeannette is an amazing writer and the fact that she is so caring and forgiving of her parents is heartwarming Her love for them is unconditional Rather than turn bitter about her upbringing, she s a very positive person and she s taught me a lot about family, perseverance, and forgiveness after reading her story If you haven t read this book yet, I highly recommend it I haven t seen the movie yet, but I honestly can t wait.5 You can also see this review www.readrantrockandroll.com I guess I have a somewhat different frame of reference than several of the reviewers here I can relate to many of the lessons she learned, and as such, I never had an issue believing her These things can and do happen The system fails children, and addicts whether they re addicted to alcohol or excitement will seek their fix above all else As long as the addiction is in the picture, the person just doesn t exist Children in alcoholic families eventually become aware of this, and the soone I guess I have a somewhat different frame of reference than several of the reviewers here I can relate to many of the lessons she learned, and as such, I never had an issue believing her These things can and do happen The system fails children, and addicts whether they re addicted to alcohol or excitement will seek their fix above all else As long as the addiction is in the picture, the person just doesn t exist Children in alcoholic families eventually become aware of this, and the sooner they get it the better for them In the book, this is nowhereclearly evidenced than in the case of Walls youngest sister, who spent the least amount of time in the presence of her parents dysfunction, and yet was finally the most crippled of all the children.Of course, I admit, I have a firmly seated belief that the strongest and most creative of personalities are forged in fire Maureen just didn t get burned enough to see the necessity of making a different life for herself That, and she was separated from her other siblings by so many years that they took care of herthan they tried to include her in their effort to survive.I loved this book Walls short but revealing scenes were detail and character driven, and there were several times I caught myself chuckling at some absolute absurdity or marveling at an unexpected bit of wisdom from someone who should have been a totally unreliable source And I guess that s one of the main things I came away with after reading this book Wisdom can come from anyonewhether we like them or not And the trick to surviving is to take those things that make us better and stronger with us, and to leave the rest behind Who here has seen the show Shameless I am thinking of the American version, but I know there is a British one, too, that it is based on To me, that show could have been inspired by this memoir Frank Gallagher and Rex Walls are the same guy I enjoyed all the vignettes from Jeannette Walls life She did a great job throwing them all together to create a story even without a specific plot I am not sure that any of the stories lastedthan a few pages, but each one of them was interesting Who here has seen the show Shameless I am thinking of the American version, but I know there is a British one, too, that it is based on To me, that show could have been inspired by this memoir Frank Gallagher and Rex Walls are the same guy I enjoyed all the vignettes from Jeannette Walls life She did a great job throwing them all together to create a story even without a specific plot I am not sure that any of the stories lastedthan a few pages, but each one of them was interesting and important in its own way.I listened to the book and it was great because it was was read by the author I think that this is how all audio memoirs should be Also, I thought it was interesting that although some of the stories made me want to reach through the speaker and shake her parents, she told the story without any positive or negative inflection It was like she was saying, here is my story, you decide how you want to be affected by it I believe that most people will enjoy this book Some might be frustrated Others might be brought to tears But, in the end, I think there is a little something for everyone here This story is proof that there are books out there that can change the way you look at the world Just waiting for you to give them a chance Don t let them wait too long You need them in your life. The warning is this If you are going to become parents you must simply forego being too bohemian Otherwise your children might grow up to be super successful you will end up eating trash off dark alleywaysPeculiar upbringings are what memoirs are made of We saw this in the Frank McCourt gray sad Angela s Ashes evenso in any of the Augusten Burroughs books mainly Running with Scissors When memoirs are like this, invigoratingly Roald Dahlesque in painting pictures of past The warning is this If you are going to become parents you must simply forego being too bohemian Otherwise your children might grow up to be super successful you will end up eating trash off dark alleywaysPeculiar upbringings are what memoirs are made of We saw this in the Frank McCourt gray sad Angela s Ashes evenso in any of the Augusten Burroughs books mainly Running with Scissors When memoirs are like this, invigoratingly Roald Dahlesque in painting pictures of past predicaments and obviously the survival of the protagonist, the reader reads on No matter how bad you have it, someone somewhere sometime probably had it worse.The Walls children 3 of the 4, at least become inspired by their nomadic parents, wanting to be so unlike their progenitors that they actually turn their lives around Here is testament of someone living way under the poverty level in modern times getting out alive a smarter woman for it That she appreciates it and maintains a smile is the very heart of this non fic gem.PS Can t wait to see the movie Probably on DVD The Glass Castle is a memoir written by gossip columnist Jeanette Walls, which details her unconventional childhood growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother who seems to be mentally ill Walls begins the book by explaining what has prompted her to write about her family after she has made it and become a successful writer living in New York, she comes across her mother picking trash out of a dumpster and, in shame, slinks down in her taxi seat and pretends not to see or know her La The Glass Castle is a memoir written by gossip columnist Jeanette Walls, which details her unconventional childhood growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother who seems to be mentally ill Walls begins the book by explaining what has prompted her to write about her family after she has made it and become a successful writer living in New York, she comes across her mother picking trash out of a dumpster and, in shame, slinks down in her taxi seat and pretends not to see or know her Later, Walls confronts her mother, asking what she is supposed to tell people about her parents, and her mother replies, Just tell the truth That s simple enough Of course, The Glass Castle is anything but simple, as Walls attempts to come to terms with her upbringing The first third of the memoir deals with her young childhood on the west coast, as her parents live as nomads, moving frequently between desert towns, always seeking the next adventure Walls mother is the key figure we meet here an artist and a writer, she seems to live in her own world and doesn t express much concern in the practical realities of raising her children In a key passage, Walls mother takes the kids with her to give them art lessons, as she paints and studies the Joshua tree Walls tells her mother of her plan to dig up the tree, replant it, and protect it so it can go straight Walls mother admonishes her, You d be destroying what makes it special It s the Joshua tree s struggle that gives its beauty This appears to be Walls mother s philosophy of life looking for the next struggle as the family willingly gives up its nice residence in Phoenix that Walls mother had inherited from her family to move to the father s home town a depressed coal town in West Virginia.The family s time in West Virginia makes up the next third of the story and depicts a depressed life in a depressed town It is in West Virginia where the family seems to drift apart, particularly Walls father, who up to this point, had been worshipped and revered by his daughter Like Walls mom, her dad has a lot of imagination while he takes odd jobs that never last long, his real dream is to strike it rich with one of his inventions He promises, once he has found his gold, that he is going to build a glass castle his most special project a great big house for the family to live in Once in West Virginia, Walls and her brother figure they will make the best of the situation, and they spend a month digging a hole in the ground to serve as the foundation for the glass castle But because the family can t pay for trash collection, their father instructs them instead to use the hole for the family s garbage Although she has always been her father s defender, Walls grows disillusioned with her father, eventually telling him he will never build the glass castle.Determined not to end up like her parents, Walls moves to New York, where the last third of the book transpires It is here that Walls makes it, graduating from college, gaining employment as a writer, marrying a rich husband, and settling into a Park Avenue apartment Interestingly, while Walls has rejected her parents lifestyle, it is now their turn to reject hers Her father refuses to visit the Park Avenue apartment, while her mother, after visiting the apartment, asks Walls, Where are the values I raised you with At this point, it is a mystery what values Walls actually possesses By crafting the memoir around stories of her childhood, we as readers are often troubled, not just because of the content of the stories but because the stories don t provide much in the way of reflection or introspection It is, in fact, unclear what Walls actually does value will she continue to identify success with the material trappings of her normal life in New York, or will she ultimately reject the conventional life, as her parents did Withoutreflection from Walls, particularly in this concluding section of the book, readers are left to their own interpretation of the truth about her parents are they just a drunk father and a lazy mother, or is there somethingto it The Glass Castle is an addicting page turner that should captivate any reader However, without this reflection and introspection from Walls about her childhood, the book misses an opportunity to make alasting impact on readers and ultimately fails to reach the level of a work like Angela s Ashes In the end, it is up to readers to make up their own minds about the truth of Walls parents and her upbringing and what it all means I chose to discount some of her parents flaws and instead read this book as an homage to her parents To me, the key passage in the book is when Walls visits a classmate s home in West Virginia and sees the empty walls in the house in stark contrast to her own home, which is cluttered with paintings and books and decorations and rejects the notion that her classmate s father, passed out on the couch, bares any resemblance to her own father After Walls recounts the story to her family, her mother replies that she should show compassion for her classmate because not everybody has all the advantages you kids do Although the statement is ironic on its face, as the family fights over the crumbs of a chocolate bar, the distinction is clear Walls family may not provide her with much in the way of tangible goods, but they give her things that arelasting a belief in herself, a passion for reading and writing, an appreciation for things a lot of us take for granted, and most of all love In the end, it was not important whether her parents actually built her a glass castle It was that they gave her the idea of a glass castle By overcoming her shame for her parents and writing this memoir, Walls seems to recognize this truth about her parents that, like the Joshua tree, there was beauty in their struggle 4.5 5This was really good Difficult to read at times, but a marvellous book.
- 288 pages
- The Glass Castle
- Jeannette Walls
- 14 March 2017 Jeannette Walls