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BookBrowse Reviews The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

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The Glass Castle

A Memoir

by Jeannette Walls

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls X
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2005, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2006, 304 pages

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'A chilling, wrenching, incredible testimony of childhood neglect.' Memoir

From the book jacket: 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 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.

Comments:
'The author's tell-it-like-it-was memoir is moving because it's unsentimental; she neither demonizes nor idealizes her parents, and there remains an admirable libertarian quality about them, though it justifiably elicits the children's exasperation and disgust. Walls' journalistic bare-bones style makes for a chilling, wrenching, incredible testimony of childhood neglect. A pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps, thoroughly American story.'  - Kirkus Reviews.
'The Glass Castle falls short of being art, but it's a very good memoir.' - The New York Times.
'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.' - Booklist.

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in April 2005, and has been updated for the January 2006 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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