Reader reviews for The Glass Castle: A Memoir

I bought it at the church's attic sale, and am so glad I did. Spellbinding, if it really is based on a true story, is it also profoundly bittersweet.
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I don't typically read Memoirs. I've found that people's lives are rarely as interesting when put in print as they would like to think. However, after reading the first paragraph of this book, I made an exception for Jeannette Walls. Her story is fascinating, heart-wrenching, and funny. This book makes for a terrific book club discussion as well.Read the first paragraph and you'll be hooked as well.
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The Walls children lived incredible lives--their parents were totally dysfunctional and the children had to be strong in order to survive. The kids actually grew to be much stronger than their parents ever were. I feel like the story is very insightful...it shows both the pain of growing up without the normal nurture that is due a child but it also shows how those same children had to learn to "sink or swim", just as Jeannette had to learn as a child when she was thrown repeatedly into the sulfur pit.It is amazing to listen to the children's mother rationalize their lifestyle over and over again. Incredible...As they say, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.....The ending made me cry.....I understand that mixed feeling of love and anguish....having memories of happy times even though you know that if you bring the situation into the light, that it was in fact warped. You can choose to look at it in either of two ways---You can look at it in full light, acknowledging how insane the reality of it all was...orYou can choose to only remember it in the dim light of memory---memory which colors everything a bit more pastel than it actually was....memory which acknowledges only the joy and the happiness and somehow neglects to acknowledge the insanity of what was your life.Sometimes it is nicer to remember the joy.
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First off, I want to say that I loved this book!! However, I can see why many people decided to stop reading it halfway through. The book starts off very lighthearted. Jeannette Walls begins the story with her first few memories from age three. Walls talks about her childhood in an warm way. Despite the family's hardships and poverty, she loved her childhood and she loved her parents. But as Walls begins to get into her teenage years, the story becomes much more depressing. As she grows up, Walls becomes more aware of the lack of food she has to eat, the lack of heat in her dilapidated house, and she becomes more and more disgusted at her parents for their selfishness. The book definitely takes a severe turn in tone during this second half of the book, which is why I believe so many put it down before finishing it. However, I think the change of tone is necessary. It was important for Walls to realize how wrong her parents' lifestyle was and she needed to veer away from them and strike out on her.
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What did I think of this book? I'm really not too sure. Maybe I have read too many books about people with damaged childhoods who turned out OK in the end (eg. Frank McCourt, Dave Pelzer, the books by Torey Hayden) but while I acknowledge that Jeanette Walls had an unbelievably difficult childhood from which she emerged to live what a...ppears to be a successful and well-balanced life, I was just not 'grabbed' by her story. What kept coming to me was that despite the fact that her parents were both extremely neglectful and the father an alcoholic, Jeanette was clearly loved by her parents and she seems to have had very close and loving relationships with at least two of her three siblings and therefore, to me, her life had a strong basis from which she could grow. Yes, she was hungry and dirty and living in a hovel when she could have been living in a nice home, well-fed and going to a good school if her parents had made different and more sensible choices BUT she was loved and that's got to count for something. Also, I was a bit put off by the way she wrote without judgement - God, if you're going to write a book about how awful your childhood was then I think you should show some emotion in the writing - I just couldn't get totally involved in this book.
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Excellent. Wanted to know more about 'after' - when she made her way to New York - but what an unbelievable story of children who survived in spite of parents who more or less ignored them. However, there was an incredible strong sense of family - the parents were almost fierce about this. I found myself forgiving Rex Walls, the genius-father-alcoholic-can't-handle-authority, but the mother - I was not able to understand the why of her selfishness nor her neglect and wonder if the author doesn't have the same issue? The most intriguing portion of the book was their time in Welch, West Virginia - their father's home town. The author & her siblings tried so hard to make the precariously perched shack-of-a-house be a home. The description of it - the toilet under the porch in a sort-of closet, the garbage pit beside their home that they unwittingly created, the spindly supports of the front of the house, the 2 x 4s of a ladder that was the entrance after a few stone steps...amazing survival and spunk (except for the youngest who appears to have had the hardest time becoming an adult). Read this and you'll be grateful for everything in your own childhood.
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An amazing autobiography of determinely unique, anti-establishment parents and the childhood of the author and her siblings. Found it captivating.
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Loved this book - such a great read to make you appreciate the life you had growing up wasn't that bad after all.
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Amazing that an MSNBC correspondent grew up as she did, with an alcoholic father and seemingly bipolar mother; shifting from place to place, so poor that they had a bucket for a bathroom and foraged in trashcans for other kids' lunches; and that rather than embittering her this life energized her to lead a productive seemingly happy life and become a wonderful writer.
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Read 10-2-08. The author and her family moved from place to place, usually leaving town because her dad was in trouble with the law for one reason or another. Jeannette's father was also an alcoholic, but he was very intelligent. They owned a house in Phoenix, but chose to live in a shack in W. Virginia because they were saving the house for when "things got really bad." It is a good but very strange book. I wanted to shake the dad because he kept taking the family's money to buy alcohol. Jeannette and her siblings ended up being very strong individuals because of, or in spite of their parents.
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