The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle

A Memoir

Book - 2005
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Now a major motion picture from Lionsgate starring Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, and Naomi Watts.

MORE THAN SEVEN YEARS ON THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST
The perennially bestselling, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, "nothing short of spectacular" ( Entertainment Weekly ) memoir from one of the world's most gifted storytellers.

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

The Glass Castle is truly astonishing--a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, c2005
ISBN: 9780743247542
9780743247535
0743247531
074324754X
9781439156964
9781501171581
Branch Call Number: 362.292 W21g
Characteristics: 288 pages ; 24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

In this award-winning memoir, Jeannette Walls recounts the story of her upbringing in a quirky, dysfunctional, and loving family and of finding inspiration to become a successful author in the face of adversity.

Survived a childhood with a mother who didn't want to be a parent and a volatile alcoholic father.

Another dysfunctional memoir featuring extremist parents that bears some similarities to "Educated".

In this award-winning memoir, Jeannette Walls recounts the story of her upbringing in a quirky, dysfunctional, and loving family and of finding inspiration to become a successful author in the face of adversity.

And another memoir for "Educated" fans. A childhood spent with a mother who didn't want to be a parent and a volatile alcoholic father ensured that Jeannette Walls had to learn resilience at a very young ago.


From the critics


Community Activity

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r
Rdi123
Nov 17, 2020

Loved this novel

k
kmcdouall
Oct 30, 2020

Many will be familiar with Walls's now-classic memoir, due to the 2017 film. If you liked the film, read the book for full immersion into this chaotic family. Walls has an appealing style, detailing the outrages of neglect and betrayal she endured as a child, but doing so with a distance that allows her to convey the humor and love that was there underneath the mental illness and alcoholism. She tells her story with compelling insight and appreciation for what she endured, what she valued, and what she overcame. Join her on this roller coaster ride--you won't be sorry for spending some time seeing the world through this child's eyes.

pacl_teens Sep 29, 2020

"I think I’ve found my favorite book. I love it so much. I love the complexity of the people in the book. They’re flawed in many ways, but they’re also human. This book made me laugh and cry. It’s honest and real, and it’s filled with all the things we don’t want to admit about ourselves. Jeannette writes like a journalist, concisely reporting the facts of her life. It’s straightforward, but beautifully written.
There are many aspects of this book that feel fantastical and crazy. But there are also many aspects that are simply universal experiences. Family is crazy at times. But at the end of the day, you still love them and support them, no matter what happens. Jeannette’s family is a perfect example of that. Her mother is a narcissist, but she’s also incredibly creative and full of life. Her dad was an irresponsible drunk, but he was also adventurous and intelligent. Humans are multi-faceted, and to judge them based on a subset of their qualities is simply unfair.
At the beginning of the book, I wanted to punch Jeannette’s mom, shake her and yell, “What kind of mom is too immature to actually care for her children?!’” Yet as I progressed through the novel and understood more about her, I could no longer pass such harsh judgement. That’s just the way she is. Sometimes family is crazy, but you must still love and support them, no matter how they want to live their lives. And same goes for her dad. Yes, he did terrible things to them, but he still loved Jeannette. When she didn’t have enough money to pay for college tuition, he quietly handed her one thousand wadded-up and mismatched bills so she could continue her education. Even though he was broke and homeless.
There are so many things in this novel that I love. By being honest, Walls is able to connect people through shared experiences. I think everyone will be able to find some part of the book they truly connect with." -Alina, Grade 10

"The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a memoir that sparks emotions from happiness to a deep grief. This memoir lets readers dive into Jeannette's life. She had a difficult upbringing because of her flawed parents. There are several episodes of her father creating the most beautiful memories with Jeannette as a kid, but there are times when he is driven by alcohol. Jeannette and her siblings want to escape from her parents, to live a life where she has enough to eat, a place to sleep, and most importantly, where she is free. She starts out as a naive girl, looking up to her father. She later realizes that her father is not who she thinks he was. She is surrounded by harmful influences, but does not let that affect who she is as a person in a negative way. [...]
I loved this book because Jennette wrote in a way where she always had an open ending which made me wonder how that scene ended for her. I put myself in her shoes and her words bring me to every scene she went through. If I had not read this book, I would have never known that there were people who have encountered a difficult childhood but still succeeded in life. This book gives hope for those who are going through burdensome times. Her writing was easy to empathize and the book helped encourage gratitude for what I was available to. Her open ended chapters and her short, concise openings kept me guessing how the previous problem was solved.
I would recommend this book to those who are encountering hard times because this book has taught me so many lessons." - Jenna Grade 9

p
pkfullagar
Sep 09, 2020

please remove from my list

u
usersjpl
Jul 14, 2020

"The Glass Castle", a seemingly fictional tale, is in fact a memoir about the author’s unconventional upbringing. With irresponsible, nomadic parents, Jeannette Walls and her siblings were always on the move; jumping from town to town and living with little-to-no money. The Walls children were brought up underneath starry nights, with unique education, and escaping from the authorities. They happily live their glass-castle life, but eventually it starts to crack; little by little. How does a supposedly dysfunctional family find success in this world? This is a great book for those interested in themes of nonconformity, desperation, forgiveness, and love. It will take you on a fantastical roller coaster of emotions and slam you with the realization of nonfiction. It is difficult to believe that is a true story with Walls’s amazing story-telling skill. Her ability to suck readers into her wonderland is what makes me appreciate this book. While I don’t recommend this to readers sensitive to abuse, this is a wonderful read for any ready to delve into a chaotic, family adventure.
Star Rating: 4
Age Rating: 13+

j
jdrgastin
Jun 16, 2020

A truly fantastic read, hard to put down, I was sad when it was over! A must-read!

c
ChrisyT
Apr 22, 2020

I'm still amazed by this story of total disfunctionality in this family. The first time I read this book, I did so in one day. I was so entranced yet disgusted by the parents total neglect of their children and I rejoiced at the ending that they all survived their upbringing. The book itself is an incredibly well written piece of literary work. I have recommended this book to many.

k
KellyLatimer
Jan 23, 2020

This was an absorbing look into a woman's storied childhood as well as a lesson in overcoming personal adversity. A well told tale that is hard to put down.

m
MegM4504
Oct 30, 2019

The Glass Castle is a truly astonishing memoir following the life of Jeanette Walls. This novel begins with Jeanette’s early childhood consisting of many unbelievable events and life on the go. The poor conditions the family constantly found themselves in coupled with chronic instability, made for a difficult childhood. Her alcoholic father and unmotivated mother were little help for a steady income and food for Jeanette and her siblings. However, even with the odds against them, the Walls children were able to make lives for themselves in their late teens at the end of the novel. I would highly recommend this novel.

a
AaronAardvark1940
Oct 03, 2019

Glass Castle is on the reading list for my 9th grade grandson. It looked interesting, so we, as grandparents, decided to read it. The first book for my English class in 9th grade (back in the Dark Ages) was Johnny Tremain. It was not at all challenging (I read it all on the first day and then had to try to stay awake for the next several weeks while the class plowed through it), although I now understand it was an award-winning book for teens. This autobiography is much more challenging, and I suspect that some parents may find portions of the book and some of the language offensive. For those who have read Westover’s “Educated,” written ten years later, there is one similarity. In both cases the author survives a difficult childhood, but the difficulties faced are wildly different. One family shuns education, while the other honors it. The writing is clear and straight ahead, making it almost possible to identify with the author. We liked this one so much that we are now reading Walls’ “Half Broke Horses.”

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Age Suitability

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e
elisabeth_23
Apr 28, 2020

elisabeth_23 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

b
bell5133
Dec 17, 2018

bell5133 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

b
beijes
Dec 08, 2018

beijes thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

j
jmli
May 18, 2017

jmli thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

e
ecarr1212
Aug 15, 2015

ecarr1212 thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

m
MADKC4Ever
Nov 17, 2014

MADKC4Ever thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

ellegibson Jul 17, 2014

ellegibson thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

orange_squirrel_4 Aug 23, 2013

orange_squirrel_4 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Ninja_Kevin Jun 17, 2012

Ninja_Kevin thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

Summary

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e
Erin80Reads
Oct 09, 2018

The Glass Castle is a story about the author's rather dysfunctional childhood and how she, along with her siblings, overcame challenges from childhood through adulthood. From the very first page, she is able to capture exactly how she felt in pivotal moments perfectly, allowing the reader to feel exactly as she felt - embarrassed, sad, afraid, and, in some cases, happy.

As children, the Walls took care of themselves. Their parents, under the premise of making them strong, often did questionable and downright abusive things. The story is spread across the author's entire childhood and ventures into her adult life, and it's an amazing tale of how her perception of her mother and father changes throughout the years. Despite her troubles, the love she felt for her parents never faltered.

Anyone who grew up in a dysfunctional household or with an alcoholic parent will be able to relate to the way the author simultaneously loves, doubts, and sometimes loathes her father. Anyone who grew up with a self-absorbed mother will relate to the way the author explains her own mother's eccentric, self-involved, and somehow still loving ways. It's one of the most relatable books I've ever read.

j
jmli
May 18, 2017

The story revolves mostly around the childhood of the author. It describes the nomadic lifestyle of the Walls and how the children have learned to grow without their parents' support. The Glass Castle is mainly telling the dysfunctional connections in this dysfunctional family.

b
bogwolf
Jun 19, 2015

A journalist remembers her challenging, unconventional and impoverished childhood & the family with whom she shared these challenges.

Bonavista May 06, 2011

I loved that she went through so much as a child and teenager but still held the faith the whole time and came out of it. I think, a better person for it.

carlakacz May 03, 2011

This was a very intriguing book to read, a glimpse into someones life that is almost unbelievable.

p
patl
Feb 16, 2011

Remarkable memoir of resilence and redemption and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeanette's brillant and charismatic father catured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishones and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family. The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed and protected one another and eventually found their way to New York.Their parents followed them choosing to be homeless even as their children propsered.

Quotes

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e
elisabeth_23
Apr 30, 2020

“Life is a drama full of tragedy and comedy. You should learn to enjoy the comic episodes a little more.”

e
elisabeth_23
Apr 30, 2020

“You should never hate anyone, even your worst enemies. Everyone has something good about them. You have to find the redeeming quality and love the person for that.”

a
AliceInWonderbread
Sep 20, 2019

“One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by.” - Jeanette Walls

a
AliceInWonderbread
Sep 20, 2019

“You should never hate anyone, even your worst enemies. Everyone has something good about them. You have to find the redeeming quality and love the person for that.” - Jeanette Walls

j
jmli
May 18, 2017

"It's the Joshua tree's struggle that gives it its beauty." - Rose Mary Wells

m
MADKC4Ever
Nov 17, 2014

"I'm not upset because I'll miss you," Mom said. "I'm upset because you get to go to New York and I'm stuck here. It's not fair."

Notices

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a
AlignedStars
Aug 04, 2017

Coarse Language: Jeanette's father does tend to cuss frequently.

j
jmli
May 18, 2017

Sexual Content: 2 somewhat sexual scenes in regards to the protagonist.

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