The Glass Castle: A Memoir

Kobo eBook available

read instantly on your Kobo or tablet.

buy the ebook now

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

by Jeannette Walls

Scribner | January 17, 2006 | Trade Paperback

4.5891 out of 5 rating. 202 Reviews
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 fifteen 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.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 304 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.39 in

Published: January 17, 2006

Publisher: Scribner

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 074324754X

ISBN - 13: 9780743247542

Found in: Biography and Memoir
Here is a biography that will quietly take your breath away. The main characters aren't famous, infamous, or doing anything that will remotely change the world. But in every way, and in a beautiful way, this is a story about the very essence of human spirit. The writer, Jeanette Walls, is one of four children brought up by parents who are totally eccentric and often dangerously neglectful. As Walls explains early in the story: "Mom believed that children shouldn't be burdened with rules and restrictions." We experience their growing-up years through the eyes of Jeanette and what an incredibly moving and heartwrenching growing-up it is. While Walls and her siblings aren't abused by their parents in the conventional sense of the word, the constant chaos and upheaval in their everyday lives and the things they had to do to deal with the extreme poverty they faced - rummaging for food in dumpsters was an everyday occurrence - leave the reader wondering how the kids could even begin to survive such ramshackle parenting. Incredibly, three of the four siblings do better than survive. They grow into highly responsible, caring and contributing members of society. Perhaps most touching and inspiring is the gentle love that Walls maintains for both parents - together with a profound sense of acceptance that this is simply the kind of parents she was born to. From the opening paragraphs, when Jeanette, already grown-up, catches sight of her mother living as a homeless person on the street in New York, and through all the events which come before that moment, this is a story which will touch your heart and make you count your blessings, no matter what challenges you face.

save
53%

In Stock

$8.75

Online Price

$17.50 List Price

or, Used from $5.04

eGift this item

Give this item in the form of an eGift Card.

+ what is this?

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

All available formats:

Check store inventory (prices may vary)

Reviews

– More About This Product –

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

by Jeannette Walls

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 304 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.39 in

Published: January 17, 2006

Publisher: Scribner

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 074324754X

ISBN - 13: 9780743247542

About the Book

In the tradition of Mary Karr's "The Liars' Club" and Rick Bragg's "All Over But the Shouting," Jeannette Walls has written a stunning and life-affirming memoir about surviving a willfully impoverished, eccentric and severely misguided family.

Read from the Book

Chapter 1: A Woman on the Street I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the evening, when I looked out the window and saw Mom rooting through a Dumpster. It was just after dark. A blustery March wind whipped the steam coming out of the manholes, and people hurried along the sidewalks with their collars turned up. I was stuck in traffic two blocks from the party where I was heading. Mom stood fifteen feet away. She had tied rags around her shoulders to keep out the spring chill and was picking through the trash while her dog, a black-and-white terrier mix, played at her feet. Mom''s gestures were all familiar -- the way she tilted her head and thrust out her lower lip when studying items of potential value that she''d hoisted out of the Dumpster, the way her eyes widened with childish glee when she found something she liked. Her long hair was streaked with gray, tangled and matted, and her eyes had sunk deep into their sockets, but still she reminded me of the mom she''d been when I was a kid, swan-diving off cliffs and painting in the desert and reading Shakespeare aloud. Her cheekbones were still high and strong, but the skin was parched and ruddy from all those winters and summers exposed to the elements. To the people walking by, she probably looked like any of the thousands of homeless people in New York City. It had been months since I laid eyes on Mom, and when she looked up, I was overcome with panic that she''d see me and call out my name, and tha
read more read less

From the Publisher

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 fifteen 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.

About the Author

Jeannette Walls was born in Phoenix, Arizona. She graduated from Barnard College and was a journalist in New York City for twenty years. Her books include the memoir The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel.

Editorial Reviews

Memoirs are our modern fairy tales.... The autobiographer is faced with the daunting challenge of attempting to understand, forgive, and even love the witch.... Readers will marvel at the intelligence and resilience of the Walls kids." -- Francine Prose, The New York Times Book Review, front page

Bookclub Guide

A #1 BookSense Reading Group Pick!

The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls

Reading Group Guide

1. Though The Glass Castle is brimming with unforgettable stories, which scenes were the most memorable for you? Which were the most shocking, the most inspiring, the funniest?

2. Discuss the metaphor of a glass castle and what it signifies to Jeannette and her father. Why is it important that, just before leaving for New York, Jeannette tells her father that she doesn''t believe he''ll ever build it? (p. 238).

3. The first story Walls tells of her childhood is that of her burning herself severely at age three, and her father dramatically takes her from the hospital: "You''re safe now" (p. 14). Why do you think she opens with that story, and how does it set the stage for the rest of the memoir?

4. Rex Walls often asked his children, "Have I ever let you down?" Why was this question (and the required "No, Dad" response) so important for him -- and for his kids? On what occasions did he actually come through for them?

5. Jeannette''s mother insists that, no matter what, "life with your father was never boring" (p. 288). What kind of man was Rex Walls? What were his strengths and weaknesses, his flaws and contradictions?

6. Discuss Rose Mary Walls. What did you think about her description of herself as an "excitement addict"? (p. 93).

7. Though it portrays an incredibly hardscrabble life, The Glass Castle is never sad or depressing. Discuss the tone of the book, and how do you think that Walls achieved that effect?

8 Describe Jeannette''s relationship to her siblings and discuss the role they played in one another''s lives.

9. In college, Jeannette is singled out by a professor for not understanding the plight of homeless people; instead of defending herself, she keeps quiet. Why do you think she does this?

10. The two major pieces of the memoir -- one half set in the desert and one half in West Virginia -- feel distinct. What effect did such a big move have on the family -- and on your reading of the story? How would you describe the shift in the book''s tone?

11. Were you surprised to learn that, as adults, Jeannette and her siblings remained close to their parents? Why do you think this is?

12. What character traits -- both good and bad -- do you think that Jeannette inherited from her parents? And how do you think those traits shaped Jeannette''s life?

13. For many reviewers and readers, the most extraordinary thing about The Glass Castle is that, despite everything, Jeannette Walls refuses to condemn her parents. Were you able to be equally nonjudgmental?

14. Like Mary Karr''s Liars'' Club and Rick Bragg''s All Over But the Shoutin'', Jeannette Walls'' The Glass Castle tells the story of a wildly original (and wildly dysfunctional) family with humor and compassion. Were their other comparable memoirs that came to mind? What distinguishes this book?

Item not added

This item is not available to order at this time.

See used copies from 00.00
  • My Gift List
  • My Wish List
  • Shopping Cart