Kim's Reviews > The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
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's review
Apr 01, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: for-realz, rubbernecking
Recommended to Kim by: Valerie (thanks by the way)
Read in April, 2008

Holy. Freakin'. Crap

I planned on writing some light hearted banter about how I would subject my ungrateful kids to this during family reading hour but after having such trouble stomaching what this woman went through, to do so would be completely unwarranted.

And they call this YA? What's happened in the last 25 years that made society believe that our kids could handle this? I just finished The Book Thief and had drawn a similar conclusion. What happened to the Judy Blumes and S.E. Hintons? Ponyboy may have had it rough, but he always had food in his gut. Are we secure enough with our kids maturity to put this on them?

I'm not speaking of censorship. God No, But, I'm not sure I'd be running out to the nearest Borders to fill my kids Christmas Stockings with these either.

The theme/metaphor of The Glass Castle plays heavy throughout the book (as well it should) and shows how unstable such a concept can be. I was particularly impressed with the image of filling the foundation of said Castle with garbage when it began to overtake their W. Virginia hovel.

I know that there's been many a discussion on how/if Jeannette Walls may have embellished this memoir ala Augusten Burroughs, but I have to say that as insane as some of these scenes may be, I do know people who have had similar childhoods. In fact, I wonder if there's some sort of lunatic handbook out there to direct the crazies to raise their kids ('Popcorn is a good substitute for meals', 'it's okay to let your kids go to school with one pair of pants for the entire year', 'moving is healthy'). I do have to wonder if 'intelligent crazy' is better than 'lunatic crazy' or if only the justifications are. I for one, do not believe that Ms. Walls would put out there for the entire world that she found her mother dumpster diving on Park Avenue and then proceed to hit the talk show circuit with such tales.
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Reading Progress

03/07 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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Michelle Who calls it YA? Was it filed under YA in your library, or did you get it from a book store? I've seen it in Barnes & Noble, but under their "Notable Books" (or favorite books) section. That's really disturbing.

What I loved the most about this book was the love between the siblings. The way they were so bonded together (because after all, they really only had each other). Also the fact that they all became relatively successful later on in life despite their childhood.

I discussed this book with a friend of mine, and I was very angry at the parents in my discussion. My friend said to me "But at least they didn't hit them or tell the kids they were worthless." What do you think about that? I mean, he is right, the parents never told the kids they were worthless, but THEY DIDN'T FEED THEM! Yes, ultimately the kids' strength allowed them to survive, but you have to wonder about the fate of the youngest Walls child, who didn't get the benefit of her siblings always being around.

message 2: by Kim (last edited Apr 01, 2008 02:07PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim They may have never told them they were worthless, but I don't know if I would trust the word of people who couldn't or wouldn't provide for them. It seems sort of hypocritical, don't you think?

I think all that crap they gave them about being 'excitement addicts' and 'toughening' them up was what made me hate them most. I think the Mom hoarding food was the worst.

It's listed in YA in our library and it was up for a Green Mountain Book Award (YA again)this past year.

Michelle Absolutely! I mean, I'm not a parent, but I would think that a parent would at least want to FEED their children, you know?

I hated the mom.

I still think it's weird that it is considered YA. What is YA about it? Because it's about growing up?

I wonder if "Sickened" by Julie Gregory is considered YA. She wrote about growing up with her Munchausen by Proxy mother. I hated her too.

message 4: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim The Book Thief is YA too...

Michelle That one is on my "to-read" shelf. All library copies are checked out at the moment.

You should read "Sickened." It's amazing.

Valerie I didn't realize The Glass Castle was YA either... but having said that, I think that high school students could handle both The Glass Castle and The Book Thief. Middle school might be pushing it a bit.

Didn't you want to just kill the mom in TGC when the kids were all starving and they found her in bed eating a chocolate bar? Or when the dad stole all of the big sister's get-away money? I was nauseated half the time I was reading it.

message 7: by Kim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kim I guess I just don't have enough faith in teens.. sad, huh?

Yeah, I had serious gut wrenching issues during this book.

Thanks for telling me about it Val! I'll return the favor!

message 8: by Heather (new)

Heather It does sound like this book shouldn't be considered YA.

But YA is not kidlit. There's no reason a high-schooler or even middle-schooler can't handle The Book Thief. It's no worse than Anne Frank. Why don't you think it should be YA?

message 9: by Whitley (new)

Whitley I(being a high school junior reading both the book theif and the glass castle for english) think they're perfectly fine as YA. I first read the book theif as an 8th grader. We SHOULD be reading books that make us think, books for REAL LIFE. Judy blume is great, but kids have bigger problems now than humorous arguments with parents and akward first kisses.

Lisa of Hopewell Totally agree with you on YA books. My son has PTSD from life with his birth mother. Glass Castle would probably trigger flashbacks!

message 11: by Shazia (last edited Mar 26, 2010 10:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shazia I work in a library and this book is not cataloged as YA at our library. You might want to bring this to the attention of your librarian. It could be a mistake in cataloging.

Rebecca This book was never marketed as YA, so if you found it in that section, it's just somebody's screw-up.

Kimberly Bravo for the associating of Augusten Burroughs' books to this one. As I was reading this novel I had just finished two of Burroughs' books and actually questioned myself for seeing similarities. Looking back, they really were not written similar. Augusten lived in the moment and wrote fancified versions of his memories. Most of his recollections seemed overly detailed and I thought that he wrote too much emotion in to situations where it seemed he would have been too young to completely understand his feelings.

That said, I prefered Walls' recollections because they weren't flooded with guesses at what her emotions were at the time. She wrote mostly in her memory and didn't overwhelm the reader with anything but her story alone.

Although Walls writes from a more detached prospective there are definetly moments where I wondered how someone as neglected as her still didn't "get" it. When her father takes her to the bar being one of the points. I thought, really, you have lived what you say you have and still cannot see past the face value of what you are told? At least Burroughs seemed to pick up on the patterns and oddities of the people around him.

As for the YA conversation, in 7th grade I started sneaking VC Andrews books from wherever I found them. I work in law enforcement and would rather YA's learn about the real world than the junk that I was filling my head with! Would I wrap this one up for my teenage neice for Christmas, probably not, but it could be worse!

message 14: by Don (new) - rated it 4 stars

Don Bouchard Michelle wrote: "Absolutely! I mean, I'm not a parent, but I would think that a parent would at least want to FEED their children, you know?

I hated the mom.

I still think it's weird that it is considered YA. W..."

Kim wrote: "They may have never told them they were worthless, but I don't know if I would trust the word of people who couldn't or wouldn't provide for them. It seems sort of hypocritical, don't you think?


Typically, the age of the main characters would be one indicator of the intended audience. Since the story is told from the children's perspective throughout 90 percent of the book, it falls within young adult ranges. I agree, though, that I wouldn't probably recommend this to every one of my students.... That said, I do have a few (17 - 20 year olds) who could and should read the book to start a conversation about how they might want to live differently than they are now living with their parents.

message 15: by Payton (new) - added it

Payton Ciolli This was in the memoir section for our bookstore. I think this is fine for high school student. I used this as my third nine weeks project and I am a freshman.

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