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)
My title says it all. You wouldn't expect a memoir of a VERY dysfunctional family to be so engaging - but it is. A very insightful story - but not told to yield insight - about growing up with a narcissistic, alcoholic father and a well meaning, but detached daydreamer/artist of a mother. That the author and her siblings should be so resilient says a lot about the human capacity to cope and survive, but also about how even dysfunctional parents can pass along life-sustaining qualities. Although I seldom think authors should read their own books, Walls does a passable job that does not distract from her story.
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...
In rates in the top 30 of the audible books I've listened to - which is over 300.
I liked the main character and her strengths. Not enough space to go into detail.
Favorite scene was when she, at 15 years of age, rode horse for several days, alone, to reach her destination.
I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.
It is hard to believe that people lead lives such as the one Walls narrates in this book. That a person can have an upbringing such as the one she had and turn out capable and well-adjusted is nothing short of a miracle. I loved that Jeanette developed strength from adversity and was inspired by her.
I had heard rave reviews about this book. Granted, the author overcame some big obstacles in life, but in general I found the story and the writing to be sophomoric. It read more like an oral recounting of a number of stories pieced together. Some were entertaining but on the whole, I found the book pointless and laborious.
I WANT TO PUNCH HER PARENTS IN THE FACE! I could not finish this book. I was very annoyed at how stupid and apathetic ALL of the adults in this book are. This may be a true story but I have trouble believing anyone can be this idiotic and irresponsible. The narration was OK. It made the story more authentic but her accent changed a lot throughout.
This was supposedly some kind of memoir. It consisted basically of flat, undeveloped, serial tragic events in someone's life. Didnt seem to be much point except to tell about these events in a lackluster way. Only made it half-way through and had to give up on it.
I did listen to Half Broke Horses, which I liked much better, but I probably would not listen to anything else without a very good recommendation. I really did NOT like this book, at all!
I think as the author she is too close to the story, and has only limited performance skills.
It was a waste of time. I did not find it entertaining or enlightening, just depressing and dismal.
Ms. Walls life story certainly suggests she has done well from difficult beginnings, but honestly there was just too much of the irresponsible mother and father who simply could not be bothered to raise or care for their children once they'd gotten around to having them.
The story was interesting and engaging but although Ms. Walls is an excellent writer, the narration was awful.
The performance was flat. It did get slightly better as the book progressed but it was not good. I've listened to hundreds of audio books and this was the worst narration ever. I wanted to stop listening and run to get the print version. This one is truly a better read in print.
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