Sunday, April 19, 2015

Book Review: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle
By Jeannette Walls
Release Date: January 17, 2006
Summary: 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.

Review: I know that I say this for every nonfiction book I review, but I pretty much never read nonfiction. I'm not a huge fan of it and I just prefer my fiction books. As part of the memoir class I am taking, though, The Glass Castle was one of the required books. And let me tell you, it is amazing. 

Jeannette Walls has spent more time growing up in her family's car than she has in any other normal "home." With an alcoholic father and a self-centered mother, Jeannette learns fairly early on how to take care of herself and her three siblings. No matter how poor, hungry, and downtrodden their family is, though, Jeannette's parents make everything seem like an adventure and Jeannette puts her family above all. 

When I started this book, I had no idea what it was about. All I knew was that Jeannette's dad was an alcoholic. I had no idea that this book would be absolutely heartbreaking! Jeannette perfectly captures the voice of herself during her childhood as she grows up poverty stricken and often without anything to eat. The worst part about her situation, though, is how utterly horrible her parents are. Jeannette truly loves her family and her parents, but they are portrayed as two of the most selfish people who have no business raising children. Her mother refuses to work because it cramps her creativity and her dad is constantly on the run, dragging his family along with him. That is absolutely no way to raise a family. 

I think the most breathtaking part of this book was how Jeannette constructed her family and their relationships to one another. As a child, Jeannette found wonder and magic in her parents, who did have one or two good moments in the plethora of horrible moments. As she grew up, though, Jeannette's parents slowly showed their true colors as Jeannette slowly realized that their hunger and poverty were completely the fault of her parents. 

Very rarely do I become that emotionally involved in a book, yet I definitely did with The Glass Castle. Reading more like a novel than a memoir, this book dumps you into the life of poverty and introduces you to a little girl you will want to do everything in your power to save.


  1. I really enjoyed The Glass Castle. I heard that they might be making it into a movie, that would be so amazing. I would love to see who they pick to play her father!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  2. I liked this book and I got so angry at the parents for putting the kids through such a tough life. It was a really good memoir.

  3. I could not put this book down. I was riveted from the start. An incredible story - it's amazing that Ms. Walls could survive to tell it. I'm looking forward to the movie. This story was meant for film.

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