Regular price: $27.93

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    5,824
  • 4 Stars
    1,991
  • 3 Stars
    534
  • 2 Stars
    129
  • 1 Stars
    101

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    5,054
  • 4 Stars
    1,611
  • 3 Stars
    571
  • 2 Stars
    147
  • 1 Stars
    106

Story

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    5,316
  • 4 Stars
    1,534
  • 3 Stars
    452
  • 2 Stars
    116
  • 1 Stars
    86
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Kmrsy
  • Fort Wayne, IN United States
  • 11-30-13

What's normal?

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.

40 of 42 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mark
  • Reno, NV, United States
  • 11-22-13

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.

21 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Jennifer
  • CARROLLTON, GA, United States
  • 09-25-12

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...

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Elisabeth
  • Durham, NC, United States
  • 09-17-12

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.

23 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • John
  • Fairfax, VA, United States
  • 08-26-11

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.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Trevor
  • Nanaimo, BC, Canada
  • 04-13-12

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.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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!!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

The Glass Castle

Should of paid for a professional to do the audio..... Would of enjoyed much better... Wishing I would of just read it instead. Hard to listen to.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Bad narrator

This was a perfect example of why writers should not read their own books. Just because you wrote it doesn't mean you are a narrator and should read it. Almost stopped listening several times it was that bad. Luckily the content of the book was good enough to keep me attention.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Based on an unbelievable true story...

Where does The Glass Castle rank among all the audiobooks you???ve listened to so far?

In rates in the top 30 of the audible books I've listened to - which is over 300.

What did you like best about this story?

I liked the main character and her strengths. Not enough space to go into detail.

Which scene was your favorite?

Favorite scene was when she, at 15 years of age, rode horse for several days, alone, to reach her destination.

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

??

4 of 4 people found this review helpful