The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Published by: Scribner
Genre(s): Memoir, Nonfiction
Purchase it here.
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.
The Glass Castle Book Review
I didn’t realize how lucky I would be to find this book at my local goodwill a few months back. I had heard nothing about it, I was just hooked by the back description and the simple cover.
The memoir opens up with a grown Jeannette Walls in a taxi on her way to a party in New York City, worrying about whether or not she’s overdressed for the evening. She spots her homeless mother digging through the dumpster on the side of the road. The book then flashes back to when Jeannette was three years old and on fire. From there on out, Jeannette tells the story of her brilliant but alcoholic father and her irresponsible, free-spirited mother. She tells the struggle of her and her two siblings, dreaming of escaping the backwoods town in the Appalachian mountains where her family has temporarily settled, and moving to New York City and starting fresh.
Immediately after reading this book, I had an urge to pick it back up and pour over it again and again. In my opinion, her prose was flawless and matter-of-fact, she spoke without an ounce of self-pity. Yet this novel broke my heart in the best way possible, I was enthralled by both the hardships and the victories. I believe this is the kind of book that sticks to your bones, you can’t quite forget a story like Jeannette’s. This book will teach a life lesson to every reader – mine was that no matter how hopeless a situation may seem, it does get better.
I urge you, whoever you may be and whatever you have experienced in your life, to pick up this memoir. It is an absolutely beautiful book.
“I wanted to let the world know that no one had a perfect life, that even the people who seemed to have it all had their secrets.” – Jeannette Walls