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 15 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 MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.
©2005 Jeannette Walls (P)2010 Simon and Schuster Audio
"Jeannette Walls has carved a story with precision and grace out of one of the most chaotic, heartbreaking childhoods ever to be set down on the page. This deeply affecting memoir is a triumph in every possible way, and it does what all good books should: it affirms our faith in the human spirit." (Dani Shapiro, author of Family History)
"The Glass Castle is the saga of the restless, indomitable Walls family, led by a grand eccentric and his tempestuous artist wife. Jeannette Walls has survived poverty, fires, and near starvation to triumph. She has written this amazing tale with honesty and love." (Patricia Bosworth, author of Anything Your Little Heart Desires and Diane Arbus: A Biography)
"Just read the first pages of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and I defy you not to go on. It's funny and sad and quirky and loving. I was incredibly touched by it." (Dominick Dunne, author of The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper)
The Glass Castle is the remarkable tale of Jeannette Walls growing up with her whacky parents. It is such an entertaining, outrageous story that it is hard to believe. Assuming that it is true, Walls' youth certainly provides some framework of appreciation for me as I look back at my "boring", stable family. If it is all hyperbole, then it is an inventive memoir of a highly dysfunctional family. Either way, it is a very entertaining listen.
The author seamlessly wove the events of her life into a beautiful memoir.
Jeanette, because she persevered and kept a positive outlook on life even in the midst of troubling situations.
Authentic dialect, emphasizing words/phrases, emotion
Several...the time when her dad stole the money from their piggy bank, the time when Jeanette left her family and reminisced about watching her dad get smaller and eventually disappear, when Jeanette gave her final goodbye to her dad
So many moving parts it's hard to name them all...
i love to listen!
just an amazing tale of a differnt sort of life. i love to see how other people live and this filled that need and SOOOOO much more! the author has you from page one.
there are so many, the whole book is wonderful! i was anxious to find out WHY it was titled "the glass castle."
though she wasn't the best i've ever heard, i enjoyed that the voice i was hearing was the same person that lived the tale. she grew on me.
though the parents were not always the best to their kids, i felt jeannette still allowed for the listener to feel somewhat connected to them. i just enjoyed this story so much, i couldn't wait to find out how things ended up for them all!
LISTEN TO IT!!
One of the best stories ever. Took me awhile to get use to the voice, but once I did, I really loved it and even got her other book. What a life and very well told. Can picture everything. Would love to meet Jeannette Walls.
Memoir of growing up in extreme poverty in Battle Mountain, Nevada; Phoenix; and a tiny coal town in West Virginia. What makes it so fascinating aside from one harrowing adventure after another is how damaged yet intellectually sharp her parents are as they haphazardly care for four kids. The scenes involving cheetah-petting and traveling in the back of an enclosed U-Haul truck across Nevada will stay with me a long time. A classic.
The Glass Castle made me cringe, cry, and laugh out loud --- sometimes all in the same chapter! It is exactly what you want from a memoir. Real people, real experiences.
Jeannette was my favorite character. Her story is complicated, but the beauty of her life shines through. She never pities herself. The anger comes through sometimes, but mostly it's just acceptance and the desire and determination to make her life better.
My favorite scene was when Jeannette finally met the prostitute of Welch. Everything she had expected to feel about this woman went right out the window and the encounter delivered my favorite line of the book, "One thing about whoring, it put a chicken on the table."
If life circumstances had allowed, I would have listened to this book without ever turning it off until I had finished listening to every single chapter. I wanted to devour it.
I grew up in southern West Virginia. After living in a big city for over 16 years, I moved back to the state in 2009. I can say that Jeannette captured life in certain parts of WV very accurately. I wish her time in WV had been better for her and for her family. It's a fantastic state filled with wonderful people, but Jeannette's description of her life in Welch rings very true to me.
Jeannette's reading of her own work made this audiobook even more of a pleasure. Listening to the author describe events in her life made them come alive in a way that would be hard to capture by just reading words on a page. I feel like I made a friend in Jeannette. I will truly miss the sound of her voice.
Absolutely, to hear the story from the author herself was wonderful.
When the mother praises Jeannette, aged 3 for getting "back on the horse" and making hot dogs again after being hospitalized for being badly burned.
I was so sickened listening to this book... the terrible dismal conditions and their terrible preoccupied parents. It was just that... terribly sad.
I loved the story though I was often shaking my head at how someone could go through all of that and turn out normal...
The Glass Castle was recommended to me by a friend and my mother-in-law as an incredible book. I was apprehensive because I read some comments by other aubible users about the narration being quite dry. However, I listened to the sample and purchased the book anyway...I thought that the narration was fine. This book was wriiten in first person and told, not as a story, but as an account of what has happened in the author's life. Also, the author narrated it herself and told it as if she was talking to a friend, literally sharing her life story. I have a ton of respect for the author for sharing her story and for overcoming so many obstacles. It goes to show, life is more about what you make it, as opposed to settling for what your given.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
There are lots of memoirs that grimly explore life in a dysfunctional family, to the point where an alcoholic dad, a reality-avoiding mom, and the misery they inflict on their children are almost cliches. However, Jeanette Walls??? story differs from the norm in that she strives for an attitude of forgiveness towards her free-spirited, troubled parents and a dispassionate acceptance of her own experience.
To be sure, Rex and Rose Mary Walls are not going to win any parent-of-the-month awards, and forgiving isn't excusing. Rex has a drinking problem and trouble holding a steady job, while Rose Mary cares more about her painting than putting food on the table and seems to suffer from a manic-depressive disorder. As they move around the country, perpetually broke and often living out of a car, they barely manage to keep their children sheltered and clothed, and cheerfully allow them to face troubles and dangers on their own. A few incidents are downright shameful, such as Rex's appalling misuse of his daughter in a pool hustle. Yet, neither, at least as Walls describes them, is an outright *bad* person. Rex is a bright man full of grand ideas, whose love of learning and independent streak shapes his children???s sense of pride in themselves, even when his irresponsible behavior denies them a very secure life. And Rose Mary, though unstable, shows bursts of optimism and a passion for adventure. The contradictions in these two people are fascinating, funny, and heartbreaking, sometimes all at once.
The Glass Castle also offers an interesting, somewhat conflicted perspective on poverty. The Walls children, while deprived on many levels, aren???t necessarily as unhappy or held-down in their lives as one might expect. In many respects, the young Jeanette grows up stronger and more self-assured than her peers (though, to be fair, her less-mentioned younger sister runs away as a teen and has some serious problems). Which is not to say that Walls dismisses the damaging aspects of being poor -- she certainly doesn???t -- but her memoir raises a few questions about conventional attitudes towards poverty, parenthood, and choice, and the need for a more nuanced understanding.
All in all, an enjoyable read, though the story becomes thinner then comes to a halt once Jeanette Walls herself reaches adulthood. I can't help but wonder how much time she might have spent in therapy before writing this book.
On a side note, some reviewers have accused Walls of being dishonest in her detailed recall of herself as a three year old. I disagree. While her actual memories of that age must have been limited, I would imagine that she based her account on what she had been told and added plausible details.
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