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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

4.3 (1144 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Elisabeth Durham, NC, United States 09-17-12
    Elisabeth Durham, NC, United States 09-17-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Like peeping through your fingers at a car wreck"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Fairfax, VA, United States 08-26-11
    John Fairfax, VA, United States 08-26-11 Member Since 2009
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    "Can this be True??"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer CARROLLTON, GA, United States 09-25-12
    Jennifer CARROLLTON, GA, United States 09-25-12
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    "A CAPTIVATING READ"
    What made the experience of listening to The Glass Castle the most enjoyable?

    The author seamlessly wove the events of her life into a beautiful memoir.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Jeanette, because she persevered and kept a positive outlook on life even in the midst of troubling situations.


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

    Authentic dialect, emphasizing words/phrases, emotion


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    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


    Any additional comments?

    So many moving parts it's hard to name them all...

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tara Saunders Madison, PA, United States 06-13-12
    Tara Saunders Madison, PA, United States 06-13-12 Member Since 2012

    i love to listen!

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    "couldn't stop listening!"
    What did you love best about The Glass Castle?

    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.


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

    there are so many, the whole book is wonderful! i was anxious to find out WHY it was titled "the glass castle."


    What about Jeannette Walls’s performance did you like?

    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.


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

    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!


    Any additional comments?

    LISTEN TO IT!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Trevor Nanaimo, BC, Canada 04-13-12
    Trevor Nanaimo, BC, Canada 04-13-12
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    "Loved this Book"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa Dayton, OH, United States 10-09-10
    Melissa Dayton, OH, United States 10-09-10 Member Since 2010

    Counselor with eclectic taste, I enjoy all types of fiction, dark, strange and twisted things, humor and explicitly.

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    "Didn't hate it..."

    The story was interesting enough; although at times I found the discrepancies that were overlooked peculiar. The writing lacked substance and was a bit flat for my taste. There were time s when I found myself annoyed with the incessant “I said…she said…he said” It was a bit too much, I mean come on, really I think the reader gets the point. I can’t say I hated it but I think Jeannette Wall’s should focus on the writing and leave the narrating to others.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. McLean 08-10-11
    J. McLean 08-10-11 Member Since 2005
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    "Read the print version!"

    I've listened to well over 200 audiobooks, and this is the first time I truly wished I had read the print version instead. Usually I feel the narration brings the story to life, but no so here. It makes sense to have the author narrate a memoir, but this was absolutely horrendous! Walls' habit of speaking in pattern, with every sentence sounding exactly the same, simply accentuates the choppy writing style. Instead of being charming, her subtle West Virginia accent became tortuous- she "set" rather than "sat", there was "suit" in the stove pipe instead of "soot", and every word ending in "ing" was pronounced "'in' "(walkin', talkin' etc.). The entire audiobook sounds like it was told by a crabby 12 year old. If I hadn't been trying to finish in time for my book club meeting I would have abandoned the audiobook. The story itself is engaging- a true example of the truth being stranger than fiction- and I truly admire her strength, tenacity and resilience. I would give the audiobook 2.5 stars, but I
    think the print version, without the dreadful narration, would merit 4.

    10 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Reno, NV, United States 11-22-13
    Mark Reno, NV, United States 11-22-13 Member Since 2006
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    "Perfect memoir, perfect narration"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tina BECKLEY, WV, United States 07-24-12
    Tina BECKLEY, WV, United States 07-24-12
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    "Everything you want in a memoir"
    What did you love best about The Glass Castle?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    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.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    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."


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebecca Cole 05-26-12
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    "riveting"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Glass Castle to be better than the print version?

    Absolutely, to hear the story from the author herself was wonderful.


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

    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.


    Which character – as performed by Jeannette Walls – was your favorite?

    herself


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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