Emily May's Reviews > The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
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Mar 17, 2016

really liked it
bookshelves: memoirs-or-bios, nonfiction, 2016

Now I get why people like this memoir so much.

Though it is a memoir and a true story, both the writing style and the way Walls reminisces about her childhood make it seem like more of a fairy tale. My favourite non-fiction books are those that don't lose the compelling flow of a good fiction book - that still pull you into another world and life, dragging you along for the ride. This is one of those.

I especially liked reading about Walls' complex and conflicting thoughts about her parents and childhood. When she's writing about her youth, she writes with the rose-tinted glasses of a young girl who loves her family; as she grows, she begins to see the shadows of reality creeping in - her father's alcoholism, her mother's selfish behaviour, the lack of food in the cupboards as a parental failure and not a normality.

And, through it all, she still loves her parents. She remembers her father as an intelligent man full of fantastical stories, and her mother as a spirited artist. It's interesting, though, how differently I felt toward them.

Normally, a convincing story has me feeling the same way as the narrator, but even though I could understand Walls's love for her parents, I despised them for being selfish and neglectful. I hated them for allowing a 3 year old to use the stove (and cause herself serious burns). I felt extreme anger, not love and understanding, towards them.

But that's not a criticism. The Glass Castle is a beautifully-written, emotional read. A true bildungsroman, full of dark and happy times.

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Comments (showing 1-35 of 35) (35 new)

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Mike Excellent review, Emily. Glad you found a chance to tackle this one. It's a book I've been able to lend and discuss in amazement with others.


Jessica Smith One of my all-time favorites. Glad you liked it. I found the writing so beautiful.


message 3: by Tamara (new) - added it

Tamara Absolutely love this book. Read it in high school in 11th grade.. My English Teacher though it would be a lot easier for us to read this book and understand it than to read The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne


message 4: by Sabrina (new) - added it

Sabrina Grafenberger I read it a few years ago and absolutely loved it :)


Alyssa Lane I felt the exact same way by the end.


Elsa Rohm I have to read this for school this summer and now I'm excited!


message 7: by DeB (new) - rated it 5 stars

DeB MaRtEnS So glad you have made the acquaintance of this fine book! Great review.
The parents were irresponsible, detachedly neglectful, and lost in a reality of addiction — but they were never intentionally malicious or sadisitically cruel to the kids. Somehow, the story of the haze of neglect and poverty in Jeanette Walls' hands did not make me cringe; the hardship they experienced was tragic, but they were not hated. That small saving grace comes through in this lovely memoir, a favourite of mine too.


Mary ~Ravager of Tomes~ Wonderful book! I am from West Virginia so a lot of the places she wrote about I am familiar with. I had the same reaction to her parents as you (along with almost everyone else in my 12th grade English class).


Sarah-E. agreed


Nikki This book is fantastic, glad you liked it


message 11: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy Reading this book felt much like rubbernecking at the scene of an accident. And though it made me terribly angry at times, it's definitely one of my favorite reads!


Linds They've made a movie of this, it's supposedly coming out soon.


Nicay │The Nerdy side of a Queen Wonderful review Em! I've been looking Non-fiction books to read that will not bored me so much, thank you for this!


Becky One of my absolute favorites. Good review! I'm glad you enjoyed it.


Ursula Great review & great book. I was at a book sale a couple weeks ago and saw a couple copies of this book. I immediately turned to the lady next to me (who was a complete stranger) and recommended it to her. She laughed and told me she already had it. It's one of those books I recommend to everyone (including complete strangers lol).


message 16: by mali (new) - rated it 5 stars

mali im reading it and i like it so far, i can't believe the awesome parenting in this book.


message 17: by Michelle (new) - added it

Michelle Great review Emily! I've always wanted to read this one. :)


~Dani~ LazyTurtle's Books If you haven't already, I absolutely reccomend reading Felicia Days's memoir, You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost).


Emily May Dani wrote: "If you haven't already, I absolutely reccomend reading Felicia Days's memoir, You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)."

I've heard good things about it! What did you like about it? Is it funny?


~Dani~ LazyTurtle's Books Yes! I actually loved it very much. Felicia's personality shines through it in very very much and she had a quirky childhood so it makes for a very fun read.


message 21: by Maya ❤ (new)

Maya ❤ I'm so glad you loved this! I read this two years ago in eighth grade and I still remember so much about it :) It really is a beautiful memorable book


Diane Malik You captured exactly how I felt about this book... and my feelings about her parents!


message 23: by Rose (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rose Estep I read it a year or so ago and I could hardly put it down. It made me cry at times. I enjoyed it as I know how children love their parents in spite of their flaws and they survive becoming strong. This story was a great example of that fact.


Melissa Mcintyre I was surprised the author thanked her Father for his dreams in the acknowledgement section of the book when she realised what he was and hated him for it towards the end of the book! Blood is thicker than water no matter what they do to us we will always make allowances for them.


message 25: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Vegan Yep, I'm with you re being angrier with the parents than the author seems to be. I loved the book though.


Jennifer Thank you for your review! I read this book about 4 years ago and really liked it but remembered it as more of a "how not to parent" book and being blown away by the selfishness. When I saw the trailers for the movie making it out to be a tale of family togetherness and inspiration I thought maybe I completely missed the point of his book. Thanks for reassuring me I'm not crazy.


message 27: by Saba (new) - rated it 5 stars

Saba Maroof Totally agree with you!


message 28: by Marilyn (new)

Marilyn Diamond As for Jeannette Walls "The Glass Castle", I am 74 years-old. I have not read this book yet. Is it a book just for teens or intended for adults as well?

Marilyn Diamond
Author of "A New Way of Eating, FIT FOR LIFE, Eating for Life (kindle) FITONICS for Life, YOUNG FOR LIFE and coming in early 2018 CONVERSATIONS FOR A SIMPLE INDIAN BOY ".


Stephanie Noel I agree about the parents. I really enjoyed the story so far but the parents are like crazy.


Rachel Aranda I'm so glad that you really enjoyed this book Emily May. It wasn't my favorite bio I've ever read but it did paint a picture..


Brittany Megan Well said! I also loved the perspective changes as she grew up and realized how other families operated!


Vivian I felt the same way. I’ve read 75% of it, and I’m angry and disgusted with her parents. It’s not my favorite memoir, but it does paint a story of a childhood. Actually, I think it disturbs me so much because I know too many of these stories.


message 33: by Joe (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joe It does feel like a fairy tale now that you mention it; one that only gets more twisted as it goes. Great review.


message 34: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim I felt the same way as well. The selfishness of the mom was unbelievable. Saying that she took care of her kids and now it was time to take care of herself was so untrue! She never took care of her kids. I felt the mom was sicker than the dad. She should have protected her kids from the drunk. She did not have the excuse like many women that they couldn't support themselves, she could have.


Barbara Bussey Excellent review - I felt exactly all of what you described!


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