The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls was recommended to me by a friend with whom I went through film school. As of the time of writing I was unable to download a sample on my kindle and since I trusted my friend I bought the book as a paperback; purely on his recommendation.

I am so happy I did. The Glass Castle is one of the most beautifully written memoirs I have ever read and I do love reading memoir. I have often found that a well written and honest memoir can succeed in inspiring and motivating me more than any self-help book and the Glass Castle certainly does this.

The writing is captivating and elegant and Jeanette writes about an extraordinary childhood spent moving from one dusty place to another in America’s Southwest.


Her parents are artistic, wonderful, awful, cruel and more, all at the same time. The various homes and locations to which Jeanette and her siblings are dragged by these nomadic and alcoholic parents are so strongly evoked in the writing that you feel you can see, taste and smell them for yourself.

Most amazingly, the story is told in an almost matter of fact fashion and I mean that as a compliment.  Jeanette has removed herself so successfully from the story you might think she was writing about someone else.


Yet, she achieved this without rendering the writing cold, or dispassionate. In fact the writing is warm and caring, without a hint of bitterness, or self-pity. It is clear Jeanette has reached a stage of understanding in her personal life.

I would love to know how she came to this place of understanding, because during her childhood Jeanette was frequently left to the mercy of some of the most appalling and self-absorbed characters I have encountered. Her survival was, in my opinion, largely down to her own intelligence and courage.


Despite the sometimes harrowing tale, this is no misery memoir. The fact that Jeanette escaped from her roots and grew up to tell this tale so eloquently and without bitterness is such a credit to her strength, endurance and talent.


Towards the end of the story comes a shocking twist in the tale and I personally found Jeanette’s enduring love towards her mother on finding out the truth, a testimony to her integrity and humanity.

Jeanette Walls is quite someone.



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