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The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls

May 15, 2009

glassI loved The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. This is a beautifully written yet harsh memoir about her childhood. She grew up with parents who couldn’t properly take care of her, her sister, and her brother. They moved constantly, from one horrible place to another, because her father was always running away, both from the police and his responsibilities to his children.

The lead brings a reader right in. Walls starts her story in the present, and we get a brief vision of her glamorous life today. Then she flashes back, and the rest of the narrative connects in subtle ways. Walls shows us tidbits of her life, but she succeeds in not giving anything away, because she has crafted the narrative so the conclusion reveals everything.

I rate The Glass Castle a definite ten. Walls creates detailed visuals and amazing dialogue that made these memoies come alive in my mind, perhaps as much as it was in hers. I felt like I was there with her the whole time because of all the thoughts and feelings she weaves into her story. She reflects on everything.

The Glass Castle is much like a series of vignettes from Jeannette Walls’s horrific past, crafted to connect the little stories. It is a quick read—I finished it in only a couple of nights.

Walls brings out so many themes in this book, including the importance of family, but also the need to create an independent identity, and how to forgive. She shows how she looked out for herself and her brother, even as a young girl. And she doesn’t blame her parents or express bitterness, although she has every right to.

I would recommend The Glass Castle to anyone who wants to read a true story about family values. This memoir continues to haunt me.


Publisher: Scribner, 288 pages

Read more about this title on Amazon.com

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