The Glass Castle
In the tradition of Mary Karr's The Liars' Club and Rick Bragg's All Over But the Shouting, Jeannette Walls has written a stunning and life-affirming memoir about surviving a willfully impoverished, eccentric, and severely misguided family.
Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the mountains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn't stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an "excitement addict." Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.
Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town -- and the family -- Rex Walls had done everything he could to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents' betrayals and, finally, found the resources and will to leave home.
What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.
Walls has carved a story with precision and grace out of one of the most chaotic, heart-breaking childhoods... This deeply affecting memoir is a triumph in every possible way, and it does what all good books should: it affirms our faith in the human spirit.' - Dani Shapiro
'Walls doesn't pull her punches. 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 conventionalise either of them. [Walls has] a fantastic storytelling knack.' --Publishers Weekly
'Like JD Salinger or Hemingway before her, Jeannette Walls has the talent of knowing exactly how to let a story tell itself, crafted without self-pity or analysis or judgement' --Independent on Sunday
'A terrific story, grippingly told' --Sunday Times
'Funny and brilliantly written' --Evening Herald
'There isn't a shred of self-pity in this deeply compassionate book' --Marie Claire
'Just read the first pages of THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeannette Walls, and I defy you not to go on. It's funny, and sad, and quirky, and loving. I was incredibly touched by it.' --Dominick Dunne, author of The Way We Lived Then
Jeannette Walls lives in New York and on Long Island and is married to writer John Taylor. She is a regular contributor to MSNBC.com.