The Glass Castle Paperback – Jan 17 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Freelance writer Walls doesn't pull her punches. She opens her memoir by describing looking out the window of her taxi, wondering if she's "overdressed for the evening" and spotting her mother on the sidewalk, "rooting through a Dumpster." Walls's parents—just two of the unforgettable characters in this excellent, unusual book—were a matched pair of eccentrics, and raising four children didn't conventionalize either of them. Her father was a self-taught man, a would-be inventor who could stay longer at a poker table than at most jobs and had "a little bit of a drinking situation," as her mother put it. With a fantastic storytelling knack, Walls describes her artist mom's great gift for rationalizing. Apartment walls so thin they heard all their neighbors? What a bonus—they'd "pick up a little Spanish without even studying." Why feed their pets? They'd be helping them "by not allowing them to become dependent." While Walls's father's version of Christmas presents—walking each child into the Arizona desert at night and letting each one claim a star—was delightful, he wasn't so dear when he stole the kids' hard-earned savings to go on a bender. The Walls children learned to support themselves, eating out of trashcans at school or painting their skin so the holes in their pants didn't show. Buck-toothed Jeannette even tried making her own braces when she heard what orthodontia cost. One by one, each child escaped to New York City. Still, it wasn't long before their parents appeared on their doorsteps. "Why not?" Mom said. "Being homeless is an adventure."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
*Starred Review* Walls, who spent years trying to hide her childhood experiences, allows the story to spill out in this remarkable recollection of growing up. From her current perspective as a contributor to MSNBC online, she remembers the poverty, hunger, jokes, and bullying she and her siblings endured, and she looks back at her parents: her flighty, self-indulgent mother, a Pollyanna unwilling to assume the responsibilities of parenting, and her father, troubled, brilliant Rex, whose ability to turn his family's downward-spiraling circumstances into adventures allowed his children to excuse his imperfections until they grew old enough to understand what he had done to them--and to himself. His grand plans to build a home for the family never evolved: the hole for the foundation of the "The Glass Castle," as the dream house was called, became the family garbage dump, and, of course, a metaphor for Rex Walls' life. Shocking, sad, and occasionally bitter, this gracefully written account speaks candidly, yet with surprising affection, about parents and about the strength of family ties--for both good and ill. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Glass Castle is a heartfelt book about a less-than-perfect family that embraces adventure and makes the best of what little they have but to a serious fault.
There were times where I had to remind myself that this is non-fiction because it's hard to believe that parents would be so unintentionally and intentionally cruel. Yet, it's hard to hate them.
Overall it was a great read, and I definitely was so connected to the characters that I was crying near the end.
Born to highly intelligent, creative parents who marched to the beat of a different drum, the author and her siblings had a difficult childhood. With a dreamer of a father who battled the bottle and a mother who was somewhat irresponsible and probably mentally ill, family life was a study in contrasts with an emphasis on independence, as well as artistic and intellectual pursuits, while spurning creature comforts, stability, and the much longed for three hots and a cot. This free wheeling philosophy, espoused by the author's parents, subjected their children to hunger, homelessness, and a nomadic existence. Yet, the children were resilient and thrived, even as their parents went on a downward spiral.
The author's story is positively riveting. It is a story of survival and eventual prosperity within mainstream society. It is a story about keeping one's head, when all around one others are losing theirs. The author's journey is certainly an amazing one, and I for one am delighted that she chose to share it with others. Those who enjoy reading memoirs and autobiographies will, undoubtedly, very much enjoy this one and be fascinated and moved by the author's singular, well-told story. Bravo!
Jeanette Walls has written a most touching memorial of her life as a youngster. As a young girl along with her three siblings, Lori, Brain and Maureen live out a nomadic existence with their parents in Arizona and West Virginia. We see a lot on how the poor existed and still enjoyed some semblance of happiness, because of the deep love that held them together through thick and thin. And this love was evident in the Walls right through the novel, even when the girls got older and started to set their sights on another city, knowing deep inside that they could make sucessful lives with the greater opportunities elsewhere.
What I could not really grasp however was the financial resources of their mother, Rose Walls. Did she really have to live this way? Why did she choose this way when it seems that she was an educated woman; for she was indeed a talented artist and a school teacher, and had a lot to fall back on including property left to here by family. With all this and yet she chose this uncertain life for her lovely children.
This book gives a very interesting look at a dysfunctional family and was for me a smooth page-turner. This book should make an ideal gift for any occasion.
Reviewed by Heather Marshall Negahdar (SUGAR-CANE May 1st, 2006)
Most recent customer reviews
Wonderful book! Why did I postpone reading this for so long? Walls is an excellent writer who triumphed over an unimaginable childhood. What a talented writer!Published 1 month ago by ms fiki
Wonderfully written. What a memoir! Funny, sad and profound. Great characters and all so very real. Could not put this book down.Published 2 months ago by Susan Andrew
Arrived quickly and the book itself has me hooked. Can not put down!Published 3 months ago by Melissa Whitley
This book is beyond incredible... the author's story of her life growing up is so vivid and incredible. I promise you won't be able to put this book down! Read morePublished 4 months ago by Emily
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