Now a major motion picture from Lionsgate starring Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, and Naomi Watts.
MORE THAN SEVEN YEARS ON THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST
The perennially bestselling, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, “nothing short of spectacular” (Entertainment Weekly) memoir from one of the world’s most gifted storytellers.
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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Jeannette Walls’ coming-of-age memoir is both a dreamy exploration of childhood wonder and a character-driven tale of parental dysfunction. Walls’ concise tone makes the portrayal of her family especially vibrant and raw: her alcoholic father is a magical and destructive presence, while her free-spirited mother has no gift for domestic responsibility. As Walls matures, her parents’ idiosyncrasies lose their romanticism—she weaves together tales of homelessness, neglect, starry-eyed adventure, and familial atonement, seamlessly shifting between childhood innocence and adult frustration. The Glass Castle is as spellbinding as it is harrowing.
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."
Customer ReviewsSee All
Fascinating story! Great writing! Amazing woman to have escaped what could have been a life following in her parents footsteps.
Couldn't put it down! Read it!
The Glass Castle
You're from the beginning. At no point do loose interest. A great read!
Frustrating, more than anything...
I'm writing this review before I'm done with the book bc I must vent! There's only a chapter left and -- don't get me wrong -- I'm enjoying the book. It's one of those stories where I want to scream at the main character (in this case, the author) and knock some sense into her/him. For the writer to be loyal and to love parents like hers, only fills me with anger and disbelief. Bad parents don't deserve love and respect and her parents go way past being just lousy parents. They are truly insane and that mother goes beyond selfish.
The writing is decent but it's a very easy read. I wasn't bored and it held my interest. If I could understand the author's naive loyalty better, I would like the book more. Spoiler: the parents refused to work their entire lives while their children starved. The children should have left and never looked back. I'll finish the book but I'm mostly angry and confused about loving two people that deserve it least in the world.