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The Glass Castle

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  744,126 Ratings  ·  46,264 Reviews
A tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that, despite its profound flaws, gave the author the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

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
...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 17th 2006 by Scribner (first published March 2005)
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Popular Answered Questions
Tara glass castle = broken promises

Her father was constantly saying, "Have I ever let you down?"
The glass Castle was the grandiose of promises the father…more
glass castle = broken promises

Her father was constantly saying, "Have I ever let you down?"
The glass Castle was the grandiose of promises the father made.
From the start of the book to the end of the book Jeannettes vision and hope for the glass castle changed.

I think it was a perfect title, in my opinion.(less)
Lisa
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

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Meredith Holley
Jul 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone else
Recommended to Meredith by: Everyone
My sister saw The Glass Castle on my coffee table and said, “Oh, I read that. It’s kind of . . .” then she paused and we both were awkwardly silent for a minute. “Well, I was going to say, it’s kind of like us, a little bit, but not –“

“Yeah,” I said. “I wasn’t going to say it – because not all of it – “

“Yeah, not all of it.”

We didn’t talk about it again.

When I first saw this book, I think I died a little inside because of the cover. I didn’t hate The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood like
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Emily May
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Now I get why people like this memoir so much.

Though it is a memoir and a true story, both the writing style and the way Walls reminisces about her childhood make it seem like more of a fairy tale. My favourite non-fiction books are those that don't lose the compelling flow of a good fiction book - that still pull you into another world and life, dragging you along for the ride. This is one of those.

I especially liked reading about Walls' complex and conflicting thoughts about her parents and ch
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Elyse
Nov 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Another Update: I just saw the movie!!! I liked it! Woody Harrelson - Brie Larson
and Naomi Watts were all great! I thought they got the important 'duel' emotions just right. On one end - the parents did not 'protect' their kids appropriately at all-- lots of crazy dangerous chaos-
On the other end - there was no question the parents loved wholeheartedly their children AND there were 'some' great gifts they gave their children - so our emotions are 'mixed'.
At the end of the movie when they show
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Angela Cross
Nov 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I guess I have a somewhat different frame of reference than several of the reviewers here. I can relate to many of the lessons she learned, and as such, I never had an issue believing her. These things can and do happen. The system fails children, and addicts (whether they're addicted to alcohol or excitement) will seek their fix above all else. As long as the addiction is in the picture, the person just doesn't exist. Children in alcoholic families eventually become aware of this, and the soone ...more
Lola
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook, memoir
This story is proof that there are books out there that can change the way you look at the world... Just waiting for you to give them a chance. Don't let them wait too long. You need them in your life.
Matthew
Who here has seen the show Shameless? (I am thinking of the American version, but I know there is a British one, too, that it is based on.) To me, that show could have been inspired by this memoir. Frank Gallagher and Rex Walls are the same guy!



I enjoyed all the vignettes from Jeannette Walls' life. She did a great job throwing them all together to create a story even without a specific plot. I am not sure that any of the stories lasted more than a few pages, but each one of them was interesting
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Krenzel
May 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ala-notables
"The Glass Castle" is a memoir written by gossip columnist Jeanette Walls, which details her unconventional childhood growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother who seems to be mentally ill. Walls begins the book by explaining what has prompted her to write about her family: after she has "made it" and become a successful writer living in New York, she comes across her mother picking trash out of a dumpster and, in shame, slinks down in her taxi seat and pretends not to see or know her. La ...more
Raeleen Lemay
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, nonfiction
4.5/5

This was really good! Difficult to read at times, but a marvellous book.
Fabian
Jul 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
The warning is this: If you are going to become parents you must simply forego being bohemian. Otherwise your children might grow up to be super successful & you will end up eating trash off dark alleyways...

Peculiar upbringings are what memoirs are made of! We saw this in the Frank McCourt gray & sad "Angela's Ashes", & even more so in any of the Augusten Burroughs books (mainly "Running with Scissors"). When memoirs are like this, invigoratingly Roald Dahlesque in painting pictures
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Annalisa
Oct 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Annalisa by: bookclub
What I loved about this book is this: it presents her parents, with all their faults, and the poor mentality, at its worst, without anger, exasperation, or even really any judgment, just with the quirky love we all view our own childhoods. If she had been bitter in her description it would not have been believable, but instead it was tinged with forgiveness making me respect her for not only surviving such a strange childhood to become a successful, even functioning, adult but for being able to ...more
Kate
May 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book really made me angry--why can people who have absolutely no business having kids be able to have four?

Let me backtrack...

In the beginning, the Walls family is always on the run. The father is an alcoholic, who is intelligent, but believes everything upon everything is a conspiracy. He can't get a job because of the mafia, the government, the gestapo...The mother has a teaching degree, but chooses to be an artist. The family is barely able to scrape by; the father spends any money they
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Juliet
Sep 17, 2007 rated it it was ok
Okay, I originally gave this one star but then had to go back and re-rate it to a two b/c I surprised a couple of you guys and in my impulsive way, I realized perhaps one star was a bit too knee jerk.

It's not that I hated The Glass Castle, it's just that it irritated me with its self-conscious narrative style. Too much "look at how horrible things were!" and not enough detail or challenges to make me really care.

The same stories are told and re-told throughout the memoir novel, and they rely too
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Melki
May 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
This is not a review. There are already thousands of those. Instead, I present an anecdote.

I read this in 2008 for my now-defunct neighborhood book club. I decided that my oldest son, who was then 14, should read it for "Mom's Summer Reading Plan" - also known as the Mom-Forces-Us-To-Read-For-Half-An-Hour-Each-Day-Torture-Program by certain members of the family. I felt it was important for him to learn that not every child gets to grow up in a household that has eight different video game syste
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Nicole
Jun 26, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: someone bored
Shelves: absolute-crap
Why is it that I hated this book when everyone else thinks it was good? It annoyed me on so many levels. I kept thinking to myself...."alright, I get it...life sucks, move on". I just have so little sympathy and empathy sometimes, especially in books, that this just IRKED me. Sure, the writing was well done, the prose effective, the story was a bit enchanting...I just could NOT understand why this book got such great reviews. In fact, the reviews is why I kept reading it. Had someone else though ...more
Suzanne
Honestly, simply a must read. Wow. Firstly, thank you to my friend Elyse for recommending this book. She knows what I like. Wow this woman. Wow this family. I have just finished reading this books last pages whilst making my lasagne to feed my family, hastily stirring the white sauce and throwing in the bay leaves. The irony isn't lost on me.. I needed to finish this story. But! Mental illness is all around. This family is a perfect example, and also one of resilience. Hey, these children have m ...more
Tracy
Jan 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: general audience
Recommended to Tracy by: my mom
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Scot
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was ok
I know many people love this book, remarking on how powerful and moving it was, but I had some deep problems with the narrator's memory process, and some issues about what lessons I was ultimately supposed to learn here. It is a riveting tale, full of unforgettable suffering, strife, and perseverance, about growing up with two bohemian-minded parents, one a raging alcoholic and the other a manic depressive. It is the story of the dangerous synergy that combination produced, and how the narrator ...more
BlackOxford
Overly-Woke to Family Values

Jeanette Walls should not be alive. Her actuarial chance of surviving was close to zero in her Keystone Cops version of childhood. With two dipsy parents, one a violent drunk, the other a spaced-out avatar of Vishnu, she had experiences which the SAS would have had difficulty enduring. Severe scalding, scorpion bites, being thrown from a moving car, locked in the back of a truck for fourteen hours, incipient starvation, drowning, and mauling by a cheetah, not to menti
...more
Madeleine
It's no secret that I get to read on the job. I proofread for a financial publisher, which means that I spend my days getting lost in the lilting legalese of prospectuses, trustee meeting results, shareholder reports, highlight sheets – it's riveting stuff, trust me. But we're a small operation with only a few clients and the fiscal schedule is defined by a feast-or-famine work flow: While the numbers are still being tabulated, portfolio managers are polishing their semiannual interviews and sty ...more
Cheri

“We take a chance from time to time
And put our necks out on the line
And you have broken every promise that we made
And I have loved you anyway”

-- “Like a Fool” - Keira Knightley/ Lyrics - John Carney/“Begin Again” Soundtrack


Dysfunction and crushing poverty are at the heart of this memoir, but love is there, as well. Readers might find it difficult to accept these things in the casual “this was my life” presentation, as though it had no effect on her, as though she is used to having others feel
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Marcie
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Marcie by: Cheryl
Once I let my frustration with the parents' neglect go, I actually enjoyed this book. Because of her matter-of-fact, non-whining writing, I enjoyed reading this book the entire time and actually put off other things so I could read more. As a disclaimer to my following comments, I am in no way condoning all of their parenting style and I also acknowledge they did not provide for their children like a parent should, but I have to say that I learned quite a bit from her parents! The positive thing ...more
Vanessa
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A million stars!!! I LOVED this book! I wish I had had non stop uninterrupted hours to devour this book but I also didn't want it to end. I loved the family dynamics. What a unique bunch of people! The writing is simple and incredibly accessible so you felt really at home reading along. I actually had times where I felt envious of this nomadic carefree life that it had me rethinking my life of conventional suburban living. Made me think what a sheltered (boring?) life I've led lol. I love a book ...more
Dem
Sep 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub-reads
An extraordinary account of Parental neglect to the point of where I kept asking myself....could All this have possibably happened in one family?

I first read this book back in 2009 and didnt even write a review as I found the book depressing and relentless. This time it was nominated for my sit in book club and when the nomination was announced THE GLASS CASTLE I took a deep breath, gritted my teeth, smiled and thought Ok might just pretend I read again and wing it when it comes to discussion
...more
Ginger
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
What a great, enduring story of survival! These kids are fighters!

I’m glad I read this memoir and that my real-life book club choose this for the month of November. It’s one of the best memoirs that I’ve read and I loved how the author, Jeannette Walls had a sense of peace about her parents by the end of the book. Kudos to her for not being bitter with how she was raised. Not many people could manage this with the type of conditions that she lived in.

The parents were terrible, selfish and I hate
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J.L.   Sutton
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle is a compelling memoir. It’s no stretch to say Walls had an unconventional childhood. It’s part adventure, part how do I live through this and make it to the next day. Walls’ matter-of-fact tone makes an account of her childhood effective and keeps it focused on the events which both brought her family together as well as those which tore them apart. She is not a victim in this memoir. She doesn’t ask for sympathy for herself and she doesn’t blame her parents fo ...more
LeAnne
Just finished reading this fantastic memoir for the second time after having enjoyed it the first go round over a decade ago. Knowing what was coming down the track, this reading was even more satisfying, as I could slow down and savor her words instead of rushing ahead.

I thought that everybody in the world had already read this but am in a new book club where my husband and I were the only ones lucky enough to have already done so. What a treat it was to revisit this after 10 years!

Walls had a
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Richard Derus
Oct 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
MARCH 2017 UPDATE: There will be a film starring Brie Larson as Ms. Walls, Naomi Watts as her mother, and Woody Harrellson as her father, released at some as-yet unnannounced date in 2017.

Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: 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,
...more
Julie
Apr 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
A review on the back of my copy reads:

Jeannette Walls has a story to tell, and tells it brilliantly, without an ounce of pity.

No pity? Yep. You've got that right.

No pity and NO EMOTIONS whatsoever. And certainly no humor.

Ms. Walls tells her story like a journalist, which of course, she is, but it didn't work for me that she wasn't sharing her story, but reporting the facts.

I felt cheated and unsafe throughout this entire read, as though Ms. Walls was allowed to be robotic and detached, but I w
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lkt
May 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing
From my Amazon.com review:

"Sometimes people get the lives they want..."

A stunning memoir, hard to put down. Walls is superb with details, a true genius. She is a fine example of a self-made, successful person. But throughout most of the book, I was so angry with the parents, her mother in particular:

When the kids had nothing to eat, she hid a king-sized Hershey bar in her bed for herself. She had an excuse for her behavior, whining that she's a "sugar addict." (And later, she refuses to get a
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Zoeytron
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
An utterly fascinating look into the lives of two narcissists who neglect their children in order to serve their own ends. No rules, life is an adventure. Rationalization - where would we be without it? Reads like fiction. My interest never wavered.
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5,572 followers
Jeannette Walls is a writer and journalist.

Born in Phoenix, Arizona, she graduated with honors from Barnard College, the women's college affiliated with Columbia University. She published a bestselling memoir, The Glass Castle, in 2005. The book was adapted into a film and released to theaters in August, 2017.
“Things usually work out in the end."
"What if they don't?"
"That just means you haven't come to the end yet.”
1041 likes
“You should never hate anyone, even your worst enemies. Everyone has something good about them. You have to find the redeeming quality and love the person for that.” 519 likes
More quotes…