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  • Published: New York : Scribner, 2005.
  • Year Published: 2005
  • Description: 288 p.
  • Language: English
  • Format: Book

Reading Level

  • Lexile: 1010

ISBN/Standard Number

  • 074324754X
  • 0743247531 :


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The glass castle : a memoir

by Walls, Jeannette.

There are currently 2 available

Where To Find It

Call number: 921 Walls, Jeannette

Available Copies: Downtown 2nd Floor, Traverwood Adult

Community Reviews

Mixed feelings about this one

Here's the thing with this book. Walls is a great storyteller. This book is a memoir of her childhood, and it's fascinating. She does an outstanding job drawing you in to the experience of being a child of two parents who are creative, schizophrenic, free spirits, alcoholic/ co-dependent, neglectful, countercultural, lax, or some some combination of all of the above. It's the most artfully told train wreck I've ever had the privilege or horror to read.

But it gets a mediocre rating from me solely for this: what *I* want out of a book is to encounter people making decisions and living with the consequences of them. It takes more than 75% of the book before the author begins to become an *actor*, rather than the recipient of her parents' dysfunctional actions. I know you need set-up, but the proportion was way off for me... no matter how brilliantly she tells the train wrecks of her youth.


The Glass Castle is an incredible memoir about rising above a background entrenched in poverty. However, I often found myself conflicted. The depiction of Walls' family makes it seem as though she admires her parents for, what I took to be, an incredible selfishness.

Throughout the book, Walls' parents demonstrate a unique outlook on life. They understand differences between race and culture better than most people who surround them, they strive to provide their children with an incredible education, and they instill a sense of adventure in their family. However, I felt as though all of these qualities are overshadowed by the fact that the family lives in increasing squalor and neglect due to the parents' decisions.

Walls' mother often says that she has raised her children and now it is time for her to invest in herself and her art. This decision leads to the children eating sticks of margarine because her mother refuses to work. Her father is an alcoholic who takes his 14 year old daughter to a bar and then sends her upstairs with a man who intends to have sex with her. It was at this point in the book where I really started to dislike her father. Up until this chapter I felt as though he was a victim of alcoholism and deeply loved his family. My opinion changed as I began to think that he was just too selfish and proud to get help for his addiction.

While this book was incredibly entertaining to read, I often felt guilty about reading it for entertainment. Being a passive observer while children are raising themselves in poverty was a little more than I was prepared for. This novel touches on many important issues, though it lacks self-reflection. Walls never really concludes anything from the experiences but merely states them. I finished reading the book with very conflicting feelings regarding Walls and her upbringing and I can only conclude that Walls herself is conflicted. Overall, I would recommend this book but felt as though the telling leaves something to be desired. I also agree with the previous reviewer who commented on the writing. The story could be so much more powerful if it were well written.

remarkable story, but not artfully written

This memoir is a remarkable story of a girl raised by street-people parents. Amazing that out of such a life of scavenging and poverty in America, she becomes a highly successful New York journalist. However, the writing is amateur -- there is no beauty in her words. Recommend it for education about homelessness and mental illness (her father likely has bipolar affective disorder, which he self medicates through alcohol) but not as good literature.

Go-to Memoir

As a heavy reader of memoirs, when people ask my favorites, this one always comes up. But if you don't usually like non-fiction, not to worry! Jeannette Walls' story is unbelievable!

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