The Glass Castle: A Memoir

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Simon and Schuster, Oct 6, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 304 pages
2123 Reviews
Jeannette 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. A regular contributor to, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.

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I loved the writing style. - Goodreads
Yet another self-indulgent parent bashing page turner. - Goodreads
It's easy to read and enjoy. - Goodreads
The ending was jarring. - Goodreads
Lots of good insight. - Goodreads
Even so, the ending was a bit weak. - Goodreads

Review: The Glass Castle

User Review  - Pat - Goodreads

This is perhaps the most poorly depiction of family dysfunction I have ever read. I do not distrust memories going back to when she was three. as I can attest that traumas at that age do burn into one ... Read full review

Review: The Glass Castle

User Review  - Sushma - Goodreads

Now, I have not read many memoirs, but maybe this book has carved that new path for me :) The book is very well written, considering it is a memoir. What I liked most about it is that it is not a book ... Read full review

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About the author (2009)

Jeannette Walls graduated from Barnard College and was a journalist in New York. Her memoir, The Glass Castle, has been a New York Times bestseller for more than six years. She is also the author of the instant New York Times bestsellers, The Silver Star and Half Broke Horses, which was named one of the ten best books of 2009 by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Walls lives in rural Virginia with her husband, the writer John Taylor.