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The Glass Castle: A Memoir | [Jeannette Walls]

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

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. Rose Mary painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family; she called herself an "excitement addict."
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    sarahjean Midwest USA 01-13-13
    sarahjean Midwest USA 01-13-13 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    "Loved reading the book"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    Since I read the book several years ago, I thought the audio version would be a nice revisit. The performance fell short.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Jeanette- she is a tenacious, bold survivor. She cared for her siblings when her parents could or would not.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Jeannette Walls’s performances?

    Not audio, unless a different narration. The performance fell flat. The magic present in the voices of her characters is lost. I "heard" so much more passion, anger, frustration, pain, shame, pride, love and innocence on the pages of her books.


    Did The Glass Castle inspire you to do anything?

    Open my eyes to poverty in my own backyard; be grateful for my parents and family, take nothing for granite.


    Any additional comments?

    Walls is one of our times best writers of non-fiction "fiction", memoirs, "real life stories". Enjoy her gift of words on paper (or kindle) to receive richest experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clarissa Clemens Sacramento, CA 12-24-12
    Clarissa Clemens Sacramento, CA 12-24-12 Member Since 2012
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    29
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    "Unsettling but Well Done"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I was very mixed as to whether I wanted to continue reading this book because the story was unsettling and the neglect that Ms. Walls and her siblings endured was appalling. At some point I decided I would continue listening to find out how Jeannette Walls managed through such abhorrent conditions. She did a fantastic job of telling her story and at the end of the book I was glad I stuck with it. Jeannette Walls did a wonderful job letting us into her life and showing us that the human spirit can rise above and shine.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Reader United States 12-11-12
    Reader United States 12-11-12 Member Since 2006

    reader

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    "Beautiful and enchanting!"

    LOVED IT! The combination of a heart-wrenching story with miraculous writing makes this a winner. Did I mention that I LOVED IT?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shannon CHRISTIANSBURG, VA, United States 12-06-12
    Shannon CHRISTIANSBURG, VA, United States 12-06-12
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    6
    2
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    Story
    "So crazy.....can't believe it's a memoir!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Absolutley, and I already have (friend really enjoyed the audiobook also)! The story is engaging, engrossing, funny, sad, heartbreaking, and encouraging, and I just wanted to keep listening to hear what happened next!


    What did you like best about this story?

    How the author would pick herself up after every disappoint, and tackle life again.


    What does Jeannette Walls bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    She wrote the book, and she reads it perfectly. She adds humor when need, sadness when needed......she sets the tone perfectly.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes...I laughed! A lot. Sometimes in shock at what the family went through, sometimes at the funny situations Jeannette found herself in.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a great read, I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't enjoy it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis United States 11-16-12
    Dennis United States 11-16-12
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    "I enjoyed listening to it"

    This was a captivating story that kept my interested throughout. I almost didn't buy it based on the reviews that complain about the narration, but I had no problem with the narration. It was a good listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Monika SAN CARLOS, CA, United States 11-13-12
    Monika SAN CARLOS, CA, United States 11-13-12 Member Since 2012
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    2
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    "Incredible life story"
    If you could sum up The Glass Castle in three words, what would they be?

    Incredible life journey


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Glass Castle?

    So many! But here is one: When the car door swung open and little Jeannette (maybe 4 years old) tumbles out of the car without her parents even noticing it, and she's stranded all alone in the middle of nowhere. Another memorable moment was at the end when Jeannette reconciles with her father in the apartment building where her mom and dad squat.


    What about Jeannette Walls’s performance did you like?

    Everything! Excellent writing and she did a remarkable job reading the story herself for the audiobook. I couldn't wait to listen to it, but at the same time I didn't want the book to end. I'm very impressed with her positive outlook on life and her hard working ethics despite her incredibly tough upbringing.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes, it made me both laugh and cry several times. She is an incredible author.


    Any additional comments?

    I can really recommend this wonderful book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel United States 11-12-12
    Rachel United States 11-12-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Amazing, eye opening, hopeful story."

    Such an amazing childhood and lifetime story. Very eye opening, but hopeful and heart warming as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kristen OAKLAND PARK, FL, United States 10-22-12
    kristen OAKLAND PARK, FL, United States 10-22-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "REMARKABLE TRUE STORY! LOVED IT!!!"
    Where does The Glass Castle rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    THIS IS IN MY TOP 5 FAVORITES!!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Glass Castle?

    LOVED THE PART WHEN SHE WAS THROWN FROM THE MOVING CAR...


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I LOVED THIS BOOK. MY BEST FREIND BOUGHT IT FOR ME THE DAY SHE LEARNED I HAD NEVER READ IT. I HAVE SINCE SHARED IT WITH SEVERAL FREINDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS....ALL LOVE THIS BOOK SO FAR!


    Any additional comments?

    GREAT INTERESTING AND NEVER DULL READ/LISTEN FOR ALL AGES!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jen Petersburg, KY, United States 10-12-12
    Jen Petersburg, KY, United States 10-12-12 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Triumph of education and spirit over adversity"
    If you could sum up The Glass Castle in three words, what would they be?

    Triumph over adversity


    What other book might you compare The Glass Castle to and why?

    The Poisonwood Bible - dysfunctional father dictating the lives of family members.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    This question format is flat out stupid.


    Any additional comments?

    Glad I listened to Half Broke Horses first to set the tone. No one could make up these stories as incredible as they are. Facinating in how each family member dealt with the cards they held. Would love to see other stories from the view of the sisters and brothers. For all the people who play "poor me" who have much more than the Walls did, this is an inspiration. Can never guess where the "plot" will turn. You are always rooting for "the right thing" to happen, even tho it seldom does.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elaine Canada 08-20-12
    Elaine Canada 08-20-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Laugh and cry with Jeannette"

    I think it helps that Jeannette is reading her own story. The pace of the story matches the pace of childhood - slow. 4 describes it perfectly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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