La Petite Américaine's Reviews > The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
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's review
Jun 02, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: auto-bios-etc, kicked_ass

Jeannette Walls had the kind of parents that make even the freakiest families on Wife Swap look like saints.

These are the kind of people who let their 3 year-old cook hot dogs, and when she catches on fire and has to get skin grafts, they end up breaking her out of the hospital. They are the types that put three kids and a newborn in the back of a U-Haul truck and don't notice that the back gate flies open as they speed down the highway. They spend every cent on booze and food for themselves while their kids don't have one decent pair of shoes and root through trash cans at school for something to eat. They tell their daughter that her near sexual assault is just a "perceived crime." They blow every chance they get, from inheriting a home and letting it be overrun by roaches and termites and vagrants, they lose job after job after job before finally settling in some holler in West Virginia that probably made Loretta Lynn's childhood home look like a mansion. The whole book is a series of bad choices and disasters, and everything keeps getting worse.

Amazingly - especially among today's writers - Walls never once sinks in to bathos. She never even tells us what she herself was feeling. She describes her family dysfunction and triumph against adversity without getting in our faces. Given that so many writers lately are emotionally manipulative, there was a huge feeling of liberation in having an emotionally absent narrator. Combine that with great writing and you've got an official unputdownable book.

Kicked ass.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 27, 2010 – Finished Reading
June 2, 2010 – Shelved
June 2, 2010 – Shelved as: auto-bios-etc
June 2, 2010 – Shelved as: kicked_ass

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Meredith Holley I 100% agree.

David Wife Swap comment perfect! I agree on you rare 5 stars... nice review.


+Wifwswap comment perfect!

Nicole Odd, Stella, I HATED this book. Absolutely despised every page I read. Like I said in my review, she can write. The words are beautiful but the on-and-on-and-on trails just exhausted me. Perhaps I read it at a bad time for me (don't remember what was going on personally when I read it but...yeah). It's bizarre I hated it and you loved it...makes me wonder if I was skewed by something. Usually we agree. Hmmmm....

Lauren one of my favorite books!!!!!

Christina Franklin I read this book several years ago and also loved it. To date, this is one of my favorite memoirs and one that I will read again. It's raw and real, and I applaud the author for her courage and honesty. Half Broke Horses, which was based on the life of her grandmother, was also very good. With high hopes, I will soon be reading her next fiction book, The Silver Star.

message 6: by Alexandra (new)

Alexandra Towner I absolutely loved your Wife Swap comparison, and completely agree!

I, too was infuriated by the way the parents treated their children, while also loving the book. One of the most frustrating moments for me was on page 174, when Jeannette's mom is caught sneaking Hershey candy bars when all of the children have nothing to eat. Her only excuse is that she is a "sugar addict." At that point, I almost gave up on the book entirely. It helped me, however, to remember that the children made it through such a tough childhood, instead of focusing on how horribly their parents treated them. I let their perseverance, determination and resiliency inspire me, instead of letting their parents' neglect discourage me.

Focusing on the positive themes helped me to view the book in a new light, and also allowed me to come away from the book feeling motivated, not fuming about their mistreatment. I also loved Walls' writing style; I agree as I found it very refreshing as well. I believe that her writing style made the book, because if it had been full of emotion or sappy, it would have been too much for the readers to handle. Ms. Walls did an incredible job.

message 7: by La Petite Américaine (last edited Nov 17, 2014 07:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

La Petite Américaine What I, as a parent, can't fathom is the way her parents allowed their children to suffer by refusing to meet even the kids' most basic needs, while they themselves had no problems indulging -- similar to what you noticed. It's appalling, unfair, and nothing short of a miracle that the kids all survived and became successful people.

I still find the author to be an inspiration...she never wrote on tear-jerking passage, never expressed one over the top emotion, never placed blame...she simply told the story of what happened. She's never bitter, angry, or boastful. A wonderful writer and an effortless inspiration.

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