Book jacket
The glass castle : a memoir


The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family. The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered. The Glass Castle is truly astonishing—a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.
Woodruff, Lee — These authors have drawn on haunting personal traumas to craft witty, introspective, and frankly honest memoirs that remain upbeat despite the bleak material. Their moving, engaging, and largely autobiographical fiction also tackles loss and dysfunction with deft blends of tragedy and comedy. -- Derek Keyser
Sebold, Alice — Alice Sebold and Jeannette Walls have each written emotionally powerful personal memoirs that are disturbing accounts of traumatic events in their lives using similar candor and lyrical beauty. Both of their fiction features grim plots, difficult family relationships, and challenging situations that characters must overcome to survive. -- Sarah Dearman
Boylan, Jennifer Finney, 1958- — Both authors focus on family issues, personal challenges, and overcoming barriers in society. Deeply moving, harrowing stories of personal survival are told with literary prowess and wit that both captivate and haunt. -- NoveList Contributor
O'Neill, Heather — Fans of Jeanette Walls will likely enjoy the gritty and heart wrenching work of Heather O'Neill. Although primarily a fiction writer, O'Neill also creates harsh atmospheres where protagonists must rise above hardship and poverty. And, while sometimes disturbing, hope and perseverance often underline their work to create powerful plots and prose. -- Sarah Dearman
Sittenfeld, Curtis — These authors' works are Reflective, Witty, and Character-driven, and they share: the genre 'Mainstream fiction' and the subjects 'Dysfunctional families', 'Family relationships', and 'Sisters'.
Fifield, Richard, 1975-; Rowell, Rainbow — These authors' works are Engaging and Character-driven, and they share: the genre 'Mainstream fiction' and the subject 'Dysfunctional families'.
Rebeck, Theresa — These authors' works are Engaging, Witty, and Character-driven, and they share: the genre 'Mainstream fiction' and the subjects 'Eccentrics and eccentricities', 'Family relationships', and 'Sisters'.
Meyers, Randy Susan — These authors' works are Reflective, Engaging, and Character-driven, and they share: the genre 'Mainstream fiction' and the subjects 'Dysfunctional families' and 'Sisters'.
Dilloway, Margaret — These authors' works are Engaging and Character-driven, and they share: the genre 'Mainstream fiction' and the subjects 'Dysfunctional families' and 'Sisters'.
Bonasia, Lynn Kiele — These authors' works are Witty and Character-driven, and they share: the genre 'Mainstream fiction' and the subject 'Eccentrics and eccentricities'.
Irving, John, 1942- — These authors' works are Engaging and Character-driven, and they share: the genre 'Mainstream fiction' and the subject 'Eccentrics and eccentricities'.

Reader Reviews

Approval Rating: 68.18% (45/66)
Average Rating: 3.87

★★★★★ hopeful story

By KH21 on Tue, 15 Aug 2017 23:28:17

I loved this book, it is a biography of Jeannette's life and it is extremely well written. Her mother is immature and not able to cope with the responsibilities of children, her father is an alcoholic and does not have the capacity to provide a stable home life. There is so much to like about this biography the hope, the ability to overcome so much adversity and to succeed.

★★★★★ A classic!

By Lohiya921 on Mon, 05 Dec 2016 14:26:14

Beautifully written by Jeannette Walls, loved every word. Powerful emotion and incredible experiences. One of my favorites of all time.

★★★☆☆ The Glass Castle

By Kate Overbey on Sun, 17 Apr 2016 19:42:18

The Glass Castle is an award winning and intriguing memoir of Jeanette Walls life from her earliest memories to present day. To begin, Jeanette recalls her trip to the hospital after burning herself cooking hot dogs at the tender age of 3. Jeanette had parents whose nonconformity taught Jeanette to both be independent and to dream. The Walls lived a very nomadic life, wandering from desert town to desert town and occasionally stopping to visit Rose Mary's mother. Her mother, Rose Mary, was an artist and preferred her art to taking care of her family or her home. Any meal taking more than 10 minutes was not worth cooking when she could be making art that would last forever. Rex, Jeanette's father, was the biggest dreamer of them all. When sober, Rex told wondrous tales of his past and taught his children math, science, and most importantly how to embrace life. However, as life wore them down and the Walls eventually settled in the small west Virginia town of Welch where racism and poverty ran deep. Rex began to escape anyway he could by stealing money from the family and drinking his way through life. Rose Mary retreated into a life of depression and denial. As the dysfunctionality of the family escalated, the Walls children were forced to provide for themselves and come to terms with their parents' betrayals. Eventually Jeanette and her siblings gathered enough resources and found it within themselves to leave home for New York City. All in All, I thought this was a very interesting memoir. Jeanette Walls has a wonderful story to tell of her life. However, her writing style bored me. She writes in short sentences and refuses to use any suspense or figurative language that was not already in her story. In conclusion, I enjoyed reading this but would not recommend it to anyone else.

★★★★★ The Glass Castle (staff review)

By Etc. Newsletter on Sat, 26 Mar 2016 11:56:20

The Glass Castle is the 2005 award-winning memoir of Jeannette Walls and her deeply dysfunctional family. The memoir is told from her point of view, beginning with her unconventional childhood (starting at the age of three) and culminating in her adult successes as an editor, journalist, and writer. Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and persistent non-conformity were both their curse and their salvation. In the beginning the family lived like drifters, camping in the mountains and moving around various desert towns. Their father, Rex, a charismatic and brilliant man when sober, captured his children's imagination and admiration, teaching them physics, geology and above all, how to embrace life confidently. Their mother, Rose Mary was a self-proclaimed "excitement addict" who painted, wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family in the traditional ways. Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever. When the appeal of their nomadic life faded and the money inevitably ran out, the Walls moved to a West Virginia mining town where Rex began to do everything he could to self-destruct. He drank and stole the family's grocery money and disappeared for days on end. As the conditions within the family deteriorated, Jeannette and her three siblings were left to fend for themselves, caring for each other as they dealt with the neglect of their parents. Finally, one by one, they found the will and resources to leave home. What makes this memoir so remarkable is not just that Jeannette had the perseverance and determination to escape, but that she continuously describes her parents with a deep affection and an all-encompassing forgiveness. The Glass Castle is a poignant tale of a family that despite its profound flaws and extreme dysfunction, gave the author the wherewithal to create a successful life on her own terms. Highly Recommended. This review originally appeared in the Etc. Newsletter:


By Patron81033 on Wed, 28 Nov 2012 11:48:06

It is truly amazing how some people transcend their parental upbringings!

★★★★★ The Glass Castle

By Lucy Hanley on Sun, 19 Apr 2015 16:59:45

Jeannette Walls writes a riveting and intriguing memoir of her life starting from her early childhood to present day. As an awkward yet determined red-headed teen, she writes of her unorthodox parents who didn’t believe in doctors and refused to rely on anyone or anything. Most of her childhood was told from the backseat of shabby cars, trailer parks, two room houses, cardboard box beds, and the rotting hardwood floors of her tiny home in Welch, West Virginia. These are the places where Jeannette began to learn one of the most valuable lessons of her life: to never depend on her parents. After being told about plans to move into the desert, invent a new way to mine gold, and build a magnificent Glass Castle where everyone would be happy, Jeannette is let down time after time. With a father who was never seen without a flask in hand and a mother who refused to work even though her children constantly came home to an empty fridge, Jeannette told desperate stories of her and her siblings rummaging for food and just barely scraping by. Through the struggles of her strange life, Jeannette still managed to have a special relationship with her father. However, this relationship was later shattered with Jeannette’s eventual realization that the only thing her father was truly good at was using her. Besides the emotional moments that kept me from closing this book, the bright bits of humor and comical stories left me laughing out loud. This crazy, unpredictable story of a young girl struggling to rise above the ignorance and selfishness of her own parents left me with such admiration for Jeannette Walls herself. This was one of the most enthralling memoirs I have ever read and I would highly recommend it to readers of all ages.

★★★★☆ Powerful Read of a Most Difficult Childhood (Staff

By PaulKPL on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 15:54:48

The unbelievable living conditions this family went through is enough to grip any reader. Anyone who thinks "I had pretty crazy parents" has nothing on Jeannette Walls. But what really makes this story unique is the perspective Walls writes from. She recreates her memories and feels them as she experienced them at the time, rather than reflecting back on them with her current perspective. The result is that you begin by seeing her father as a genius and a hero and her mother as brilliant and creative, and as she grows, she begins to portray the good with the bad. Writing this way, the reader can understand why she seems to hold an unwavering loyalty to her parents in spite of the obvious neglect and mistreatment she suffered. The book is packed with symbolism and complex relationships, and though it may not be a factual autobiography so much as a story based on her actual childhood, it excellently portrays her emotions toward a family which put her through horrific experiences while showing her unconditional love. It's a true must-read. - Paul, Kitchener Public Library

★★★★☆ The Art of Creative Parenting

By Tamara, Marketing Manager at Westerville Library on Tue, 16 Jan 2007 11:00:00

This memoir is a mix between A Girl Named Zippy and The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio. Jeannette grows up with parents who dismiss all forms of precaution when it comes to their children. This book makes you wonder whether all of our overactive parenting is for naught. Why not let your kids ride 14 hours in the back of a U-Haul truck? After all, Jeannette lived to tell the story!

★★★★★ Stunning book

By Timitarh on Wed, 16 Jul 2014 22:17:01

I guess it's true that God protects the innocent because that's the only explanation as to how the author and her siblings survived their astonishing childhood. There must have been guardian angels to have watched over these kids growing up because their parents surely didn't. What indifference her mother showed as a parent! It is mind boggling what her and her siblings endured. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

☆☆☆☆☆ The glass castle

By Patron31477 on Sat, 23 Jun 2012 16:53:46

This is a biography. I like this book because the things that happen with the family are really stunning. The family is like a nomad. They''re always on the move because the family can''t pay their bills.

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