The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls is an unforgettable journey through a life marked by hardship, resilience, and the enduring bonds of family, for better or for worse. This poignant memoir offers readers a captivating glimpse into the tumultuous world of a family struggling with poverty, neglect, and unconventional parenting. I wasn’t sure when I first picked up the book, but after only a few pages in, I could not put it down.
At its core, this is a coming-of-age story that revolves around Jeannette’s unconventional upbringing by her free-spirited, often neglectful, parents. The Walls family lives a nomadic life, constantly on the run from debt, the law, and assumed societal conventions. Jeannette’s vivid and candid writing style draws readers deep into her world, painting a vivid picture of their struggles and her complex feelings toward her parents.
What sets this memoir apart is its ability to evoke a wide range of emotions. I found myself rooting for her (naturally), then rooting for her mom, and then oscillating wildly to a deep resentment for her parents’ neglect and frustration at their failures. The author’s storytelling is both heart-wrenching and uplifting, leaving you with a profound sense of empathy for her and her siblings. If you’ve dealt with absentee or neglectful parents, you’ll appreciate Jeanette’s portrayal of the complicated love she holds for her own parents. Her ability to convey the inner conflict and the enduring bond she shares with her family is a testament to her writing prowess.
It’s a good book, though be prepared to feel incredibly frustrated at times, and incredibly melancholic at others. Honestly, I’d say this is a must-read for anyone that can relate to the complexities of having absentee or neglectful parents.
4.5 stars up to 5 Goodreads stars. I can’t believe I never read this before now. I really enjoyed how despite a very poor and quite a challenging childhood, Jeanette was able to become a success in life despite her parents always trying to bring her down.
This memoir is a trip down memory lane for the author. It seemed fictional at times, as it is so different from what the “average” western family goes through. There were several times that I had to remind myself that this was written in a fictional style, while being absolutely true. Although I found it hard to get into at first, it only took me 30 or so pages before I really wanted to keep on reading-because I know the ending, from the author’s bio on the back of the book-and I really wanted to know how she got there. I wanted to know what happened to each member of the family. Walls does an excellent job of writing about her life in a way that is engaging and keeps you wanting more.
This was an excellent window into a world right in America that I’ve only heard about, but not fully understood. It also gives yet another direction to view homelessness from besides the traditional ones that are expounded upon by the media and educators. I am so glad I read this book as it has given me the ability to look at the world around me and the people around me with empathy and understanding that I may not have had otherwise.
This book spans the author’s life. When she writes about being a child, she also assumes the voice of a child—she talks about what’s happening in her family as if she doesn’t know the deeper stuff that she now knows as an adult. It’s an incredible story of her life from sleeping in the desert with not a penny to their names (or—spoiler alert—at least that’s what the author thought throughout her childhood… ) to moving to NYC and beyond and becoming her own adult with a very different life from her parents. You will cry and laugh and feel empathy for those whose circumstances you can’t even imagine.
Potential spoilers, but nothing that would ruin the reading experience. The tragic but hopeful memoir of a true survivor. At any point, one more thing could have gone wrong, preventing an escape from poverty, but that one more thing, thankfully, did not happen. On top of that, she was resourceful, focused, & hard working, traits which drove her to a stable life free from the chaos of her childhood. A person without these traits, one to whom the ‘one more thing’ happened, or one more deeply traumatized by such an upbringing might find their efforts thwarted, but seeing Walls overcome it all truly inspires.
Her detached narration paints her as a seemingly unaffected observer, even as a child literally on fire. I think I don’t mind this detachment, as it allowed me to imbue each of her experiences with my own emotional response. She reveals more discontent and frustration with her parents and her poverty as she moves into her teen years. Theirs was a life of dualities: parents with fierce love for their children but no feeling of responsibility for their survival, inspiring great curiosity & a love for learning but never protecting them from harm, & incredible intelligence but heart-stopping stupidity. These children capitalized on the good to improve their futures. They lived & thrived, mostly in spite of their parents.
Great book. Easy read! Could not put it down! One of the best memoirs I have ever read. Highly recommend! Una storia bellissima che fa ridere e fa commuovere. Thank you so so much for sharing your story Jeanette. This is a book that will stay with me forever. You, your brother and both of sisters deserve a medal for the success you made of your lives. I felt so proud of you all by the end of the book. What an incredible story of love and survival. My heart went out to the Walls children but appreciated the author for the kindness she still showed her parents under adversity (though she had every right not to). You’re holding your breath every chapter waiting for her luck to turn, and hope against reason for the parents to get some sense knocked into them. I recommend this uplifting and heartbreaking story. Jeannette Walls schreibt faszinierend über ihre Kindheit in großer Armut mit völlig unangepassten, unkonventionellen Eltern, deren Traum vom Glass Castle immer wieder zerbricht und die an der Überwindung ihrer eigenen Dämonen immer wieder scheitern. Das Verhältnis der Autorin und ihrer Geschwister zu ihren Eltern ist sowohl von Liebe als auch immer wieder von Verzweiflung und Hassgefühlen geprägt. Dennoch gelingt es den Eltern, ihren Kindern humane Werte zu vermitteln und sie letztendlich zu Kämpfern zu erziehen, die ihren Weg finden und das Leben meistern. Die Kapitel sind kurz, der Stil schnörkellos und direkt, es lässt sich spanend hintereinander weg oder in kleinen “Häppchen” abends vor dem Einschlafen lesen – tolles Buch, super erzählt.