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)
I just finished listening to this for the first time and am about to start it over. I started it yesterday and couldn't wait to get up this morning to finish it. This isn't a book report, it is to let the author and others know that it is worth the read or listen. Well done, Jeannette.
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 thought this story was fantastic, but the author's reading was a bit too slow for me. I listened to it all on 1.25 speed. I'm only criticizing the speed; the tone and characterization were wonderful.
Having emerged from a dysfunctional family myself, I was amazed at how good my life had actually been compared to this one. Yikes. Brilliant writing. Excellent narration. I'm recommending this to all my friends who 'think' they too have emerged from a dysfunctional family.
Wow I thought I had it bad growing up! This is am amazing story about overcoming a childhood filled with so much dysfunction to become a successful adult. Enjoyed This book and recommend it to my friends.
I have not read the print book, however, I liked the audio edition very much.
It is somewhat comparable to Drinking: A love story, in it's discussion of the difficulty of dealing with addiction; or to Breaking NIght, in it's discussion of the difficulties of being a child of poverty. But it is it's own story, with discussion of aspects of race, cultural differences, and the impact of a steady diet of broken promises.
As with most story tellers, the author's use of description and character development helps you feel you are there where the story is unfolding.
I liked the narrator. I found their reading style easy to listen to, with good intonation and inflection.
Good book, I liked it very much
When I began listening to this memoir, I became disgusted and enraged; I almost stopped a couple of hours in, but I kept at it and I'm very glad I did. Like many other people who've commented on this book, I thought of the parents as selfish and the treatment of the children as child abuse. But you get a little further in and you start thinking mom is bipolar and dad is a genius whose brain got pickled in the womb. This doesn't justify their behavior; it simply helps to explain some of it. They both had a screw loose.
Some people did not like Walls' narration. I felt that she read it much the way she felt it as a child. Again, it took me a while to come to this realization, but I think this helped make it feel more true.
I found it amazing that Rex and Rose Mary found each other. The life they created was normal for them, maybe not so for you and me, but it was their life and unfortunately their kids had to go along with it. Even if they'd sold the land in TX, They would have found a way to burn through the $ with little benefit to the kids. I do think, though, that Lori, Jeannette, and Brian got more from their parents in some ways than many of us do in "normal" families. My dad never gave me a planet. Maureen, on the other hand, came along too late to reap the good stuff; the parents were burned out by then.
Just as Jeannette's sociology teacher thought she knew it all, so too,do some of the "normal" people of this world. It does really take all kinds. Not everyone follows the same set of rules. I really appreciate Walls giving us the opportunity to see her world from her viewpoint, from her normal.
I think either would have been good, but the audio edition allows me to listen while doing other things. If read I would not have been able to finish as quickly.
The writer's own view. Since she lived this life her inflections and emotion were evident.
The way it comes to live and you can see the places and experience unfold in front of you.
When she Jeannette falls out of the car and sits my the road waiting for her father and mother to come back to pick her up.
The true emotion behind the words from a first person prospective.
A look inside a dysfunctional life.
Jeannette....she was a tough little girl who knew she wanted better for her life and wasn't afraid to tell her parents how she felt about them.
It made me both laugh and cry. A great story about not living in the past or letting your chidhood ruin your future!
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