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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

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

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Read by the author. Ugh

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I read the book some timae ago and loved it. This is a classic case of an author ruining the audiobook by reading it themselves.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Don’t waste your money or time

Immediately after I started listening to this book I knew I was going to hate it. The author does a horrible job narrating. I guess I’m not much into memoirs, but there really was no point to this book. I know life doesn’t always have happy endings, but I was hoping for a better ending to this one. Unless you really like hearing about others lives that are worse than your own, skip this one.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Ok book. Would not recommend.

The story was ok but the author reading it was horrible. I struggled to finish it because her voice was so grating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wow what a story!!

I have to say this is one of the most compelling books I have heard this year. And it really hit home with me on how people fall through the cracks in society. Perhaps one of the saddest stories I have heard it is still a story of triumph over adversity. The chaos with which Jeannette dealt with as a child is shocking and her family's ability to fly under the radar and avoid any intervention from support groups is a sad commentary on the willingness to turn a blind eye to severe neglect in our society today.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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riveting

this is great read. I learned a lot. quite eye opening. awake to another world.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great story but

Very FEW authors make good narrators of their own books. This is narration a perfect example.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Tedious narration. Poorly written. Waste of time & $

Liked - Some of the true-life events were interesting and unusual.

Disliked - The events were "reported" as if reading a newspaper...no story development, no emotion, no attachment by the author/narrator, no hooks. Choppy, simplistic, mechanical writing made was made worse by tedious, flat narration. After two hours, I found it unbearable to listen further.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • eva
  • Shavano Park, TX, United States
  • 01-13-17

Pathetic child rearing.

I found this book so very sad, that the parents in this true story were so self absorbed and neglected their children so horrifically. The children still loved the parents, and it made me so furious, especially at the mother. But it is well written, and very thoughtful, and as tough as the circumstances were in these lives, I still really enjoyed the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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No substance

The story was just a life story, no real substance or meaning. Though I'm sure the cussing and sexual parts had to be told, this type of book isn't for me. Lots of facts without depth of feeling

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Why is it Critically Acclaimed???

I hated this book. I try to read a variety of genre of books. This one often pops up on "must read" lists. I knew it was a memoir written by the daughter of neglectful parents. I made it half way through and quit it. Finally two months later, I revisited it and finished it. The story is told in a cool, detached fashion and lacks any insight. These parents were abusive and narcissists. Sadly, probably mentally ill and the dad, alcoholic. They were not eccentric. I often "do" tough topics and abuse is one of them but I want to learn from the author. How did she survive these parents and how could she possibly have kept them in their lives? Tragic story. Horrible book.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful