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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on August 6, 2007
I have always enjoyed memoirs and have read several that were quite memorable, but "The Glass Castle" tops them all. I started the book in the afternoon and had it finished within a few hours because I simply could not put it down for any length of time. Besides having led an extraordinary life, Jeannette Walls has an impeccable way with words. She evoked frustration, shock, joy, and anger in me through recounting the often bizarre circumstances of her past, but she never evokes or encourages pity at any time throughout the book. I felt satisfied when I came to the end of "The Glass Castle", which doesn't happen very often and is a real treat. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves to read, regardless of whether or not you enjoy memoirs.
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on January 22, 2007
I started to read this book, and I just couldn't put it down. Jeannette Walls is one of those rare storytellers where you feel as if you are right there experiencing everything with her. It is an enthralling read, and the worst thing about it is how it draws you in so much that you want to do little else but sit there until you reach the very last page. I highly reccomend this novel!
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on July 11, 2007
Of the three incredibly entertaining and uplifting reads I've recently come across, THE GLASS CASTLE was by far the best. Second place goes to MIDDLESEX by Eugenides and third to BARK OF THE DOGWOOD. I enjoyed reading in GLASS CASTLE about the child's father, as a good man. He bought new bicycles for his children and took them to the zoo. He also developed a love of learning in his children. Wells writes very vividly about what it felt like sleeping in cardboard boxes, looking though trash cans and dumpsters for food and eating nothing but popcorn for many days. She also lived in a house with no electricity or indoor plumbing. She developed a sense of resourcefulness of being so poor. She made her own set of braces to straighten out of coat hangers and rubber bands. She also took a job at the age of 13 at a jewerly store to help make ends meet. Wells discovers a love of journalism in high school which became one of the turning points in her life. Her love of writing led to a career as a journalist in New York City. Jeannette Walls has worked hard to achieve the life she now has. The Glass Castle is a touching, inspirational, entertaining memoir of a courageous successful woman, but try it for yourself! Also highly recommended: MIDDLESEX by Eugenides and WHITE OLEANDER.
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on August 26, 2007
This book will keep you suprised over and over again. Just when you think you've read all the crazy things Jeanette Walls throws in some more! A good little book that is great to remind oneself about what is and isn't important in one's life. Will get you thinkin'!
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on June 27, 2006
We were always doing the skedaddle usually in the middle of the night. Dad was so sure a posse of Federal investigators was on our trail that he smoked his unfiltered cigarette from the wrong end. That way, he explained, he burned up the brand name, so that the people who were tracking them down would find unidentifiable butts,instead of Pall Malls which could be traced to him."

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)
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon November 29, 2008
This is a beautifully rendered, poignant account of a totally dysfunctional family. It is little wonder that this book won numerous awards and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. I simply could not put this book down, as the author had me transfixed with her story of growing up in such an unusual family.

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!
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on May 25, 2006
THE GLASS CASTLE is truly one of the most remarkable memoirs you will ever read. Jeannette Walls is an extraordinary storyteller and her childhood recollections are so spellbinding that you won't be able to put this book down. Likened to BARK OF THE DOGWOOD with its themes of abuse and dysfunction, THE GLASS CASTLE will take your breath away. The author, her sisters Lori and Maureen and her brother Brian were raised by parents who were dreamers. And of course, dreams do not pay the rent or feed the family. The children were often hungry (imagine eating Wonder bread and lard sandwiches), dirty, and dressed in hand-me-down clothes. Each child learned to cope in their own way with their extreme poverty, their father's alcoholism and extended absences, and their mother's moody and abstract sense of reality. This is NOT a mean or angry story, though. It is the author's loving tribute to her family who - despite it all - stuck together and survived crushing adversity. I adored this family. You will too. THE GLASS CASTLE is an unforgettable book.
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on January 18, 2017
Not my usual read but a good break from my mystery/thriller genres. White trash family expose from the inside. Goofy ridiculous parents who have remarkable kids. The kids also hold the family together through poverty, alcoholism, apathy, and irresponsibility. Seen through the eyes of the second oldest daughter, the family travels from one disaster to another, usually of their own making. The characters mirror people I know who are like this, but putting all of them together is a mad house. A library book.
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I couldn't put this memoir down!

The GLASS CASTLE is the recount of the life of Jeannette Walls and her three siblings. As the story unfolds, I perceived the Walls family situation as idyllic. A spur-of-the-moment lifestyle, including sleeping under the stars, camping, exploring and communing with nature was very appealing.

It wasn't until the children grew older and realities set in, that they realized escaping their dysfunctional family was their only chance at a decent life. One by one, they gain independence and leave home to start anew. Oddly, the children do not show resentment or anger toward their aging parents, and they do in fact take care of them as they age.

Jeannette's positive outlook as she grew up, her sense of hope even when eating from trash cans and sleeping in a cardboard box, never wavers. Kudos to her for having the guts to recount this very personal story!
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on January 25, 2012
Dysfunctional hardly describes Jeannette Wallis's family environment. The childhood and adolescence she describes must have readers repeatedly cringing and shaking their heads. But Walls knows how to lift up her narrative to overcome the gloom. Yes, even in the most bizarre, painful and hopeless situations she portrays ironically her parents' quirky attitudes about life in general and parental roles in particular. Most remarkable is her own incredible tenacity and resourcefulness to overcome her own and her siblings hardships time after time.

As unlikely as it sounds Wells has managed to write an entertaining memoir about children caught in a web of parental irresponsibility which includes physical violence, verbal abuse, addictions and starvation. The four children are often left to fend for themselves but stick together and devise plans and methods to survive. They have an unstable father whose pride, delusions of grandeur and alcoholic rages hijack his ability to function responsibly. However, his intellectual interests, zany humour and sporadic sense of paternal and spousal duty--and even love--provide sufficient positive influence to keep his family intact until the children devise ways to leave. They have a mother who abstains from alcohol but suffers from bipolar extremes of activity or lethargy, and of encouragement or melancholia. She is nonchalantly self-reliant but disorganized, failing to accept the reality of her and her children's predicament and her husband's deficiencies. She is compulsively creative, drawing and painting even in dire and chaotic circumstances.

Jeannette Walls demonstrates a unique ability to describe her life's afflictions tragicomically. This book is never boring. Readers will be left with a lingering impression that "hope can sustain us and lives eternally for those who have the fortitude to believe."
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