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The Glass Castle

by Jeannette Walls


Reviews

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

MSNBC gossip columnist Walls (Dish: The Inside Story on the World of Gossip) wants to set the record straight about her background. Writing from a child's perspective, she relates the peripatetic lifestyle of her family, brought on by an alcoholic father and an artist mother who feels that rules and discipline hold people back. Neither parent holds a job for long, which forces the family either to skedaddle when the bills mount up or to move in with in-laws. The kids end up having to fend for themselves, endure the teasing of their schoolmates, sleep on cardboard boxes, and scrounge for food. This is an extreme example of a dysfunctional family, and Walls does not shrink from exposing every detail. With one parental relapse after another, the reader begins to wonder how Walls will break out. Finally, she does so by joining her school newspaper and finding her calling, then moving to New York City to pursue it. Walls, who openly expresses her shame and embarrassment about her parents, seems to have written this memoir to forgive herself for hiding her background. While she may be glad to get it off her chest, the reader is none the better for it. For large public libraries only.-Gina Kaiser, Univ. of the Sciences in Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 9 Up-Growing up in rural Appalachia in extreme poverty, Walls (a former journalist and recognized author) and her siblings had to fend for themselves, supporting each other as they weathered their parents' wildly erratic and dysfunctional behavior. She presents an objective portrait of her circumstances that is both poignant and forgiving. Audio version available from S & S Audio. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Freelance writer Walls doesn't pull her punches. She opens her memoir by describing looking out the window of her taxi, wondering if she's "overdressed for the evening" and spotting her mother on the sidewalk, "rooting through a Dumpster." Walls's parents-just two of the unforgettable characters in this excellent, unusual book-were a matched pair of eccentrics, and raising four children didn't conventionalize either of them. Her father was a self-taught man, a would-be inventor who could stay longer at a poker table than at most jobs and had "a little bit of a drinking situation," as her mother put it. With a fantastic storytelling knack, Walls describes her artist mom's great gift for rationalizing. Apartment walls so thin they heard all their neighbors? What a bonus-they'd "pick up a little Spanish without even studying." Why feed their pets? They'd be helping them "by not allowing them to become dependent." While Walls's father's version of Christmas presents-walking each child into the Arizona desert at night and letting each one claim a star-was delightful, he wasn't so dear when he stole the kids' hard-earned savings to go on a bender. The Walls children learned to support themselves, eating out of trashcans at school or painting their skin so the holes in their pants didn't show. Buck-toothed Jeannette even tried making her own braces when she heard what orthodontia cost. One by one, each child escaped to New York City. Still, it wasn't long before their parents appeared on their doorsteps. "Why not?" Mom said. "Being homeless is an adventure." Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Not a blissful childhood: MSNBC.com contributor Walls's alcoholic dad stole the grocery money, and her mother would rather paint than parent. Scribner's big book for March. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Walls, who spent years trying to hide her childhood experiences, allows the story to spill out in this remarkable recollection of growing up. From her current perspective as a contributor to MSNBC online, she remembers the poverty, hunger, jokes, and bullying she and her siblings endured, and she looks back at her parents: her flighty, self-indulgent mother, a Pollyanna unwilling to assume the responsibilities of parenting, and her father, troubled, brilliant Rex, whose ability to turn his family's downward-spiraling circumstances into adventures allowed his children to excuse his imperfections until they grew old enough to understand what he had done to them--and to himself. His grand plans to build a home for the family never evolved: the hole for the foundation of the The Glass Castle, as the dream house was called, became the family garbage dump, and, of course, a metaphor for Rex Walls' life. Shocking, sad, and occasionally bitter, this gracefully written account speaks candidly, yet with surprising affection, about parents and about the strength of family ties--for both good and ill. --Stephanie Zvirin Copyright 2005 Booklist


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