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)
This book is such a stunning combination of beauty and heartbreak.
As sad as it is, it's also humorous and uplifting. I highly recommend it.
I am a live storyteller who devours huge amounts of audio books to study classics and new books so I can tell new stories.
The audio edition of The Glass Castle is superior than the print version because it gave me the means to enjoy a book that has been around for eleven years. I listened while driving, cooking, and walking. I could never do that with the print version. Jeannette Walls also did a masterful job of performing the voices of her family in a way that was intimate and passionate. No one else could have read her book for her.
Rex Walls was my favorite character. He was insane but brilliant, cruel but kind. I enjoyed Jeannette Walls' even handling of her father's two-sided nature. As the closing lines affirm, he dwelt in the area between order and chaos.
The scene I enjoyed the most was when Rex, homeless, forked up $950.00 for his daughter's tuition. I wanted to cry. Despite all of his craziness, the man loved his children.
Yes, I wanted to listen to this book all in one sitting but I managed o finish it in several days. The book was riveting unlike any memoir I have enjoyed. I highly recommend it.
I listed to this book on Audible, so it really helped the story sink in. What an incredible story. Brought so much insight and understanding to me.
So many things I loved about this book - in particular, that Jeannette narrated it.
The book was long, interesting, entertaining, well-written and I can walk away saying it was time well spent moving through it.
Particularly, as a foster mom, I feel better equipped to understand the kinds of backgrounds children at risk come from.
I appreciate this book.
This truly is the best memoir, perhaps the best CNF, I've ever read. Jeannette Walls' ability to pull the reader in, to vividly show, to paint a picture with words every bit as skillfully as a master could with paint and brush...it's crazy, and leaves the reader in a subspace of shock, empathy, and delight.
But I wish she hadn't narrated it herself.
My best guess is that Walls' journalism background influenced her reading. Where she writes emotion into every word, she reads with almost none. It made for a difficult listen, and did poor service to such an incredible work.
My advice: buy the book.
This is a captivating story of a difficult but colorful life. I was moved by the way the author shares her story with love and compassion despite the circumstances. The author's performance as reader was wonderful. I believe it added texture to this compelling memoir.
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