Sunday, April 18, 2010

Review: "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls

Personal narrative, or autobiography, has always held a special place in my heart. For many years, personal narrative was all I wrote. The problem with personal narrative is that you have to have actually experienced things that people want to read about. Jeannette Walls has lived one of those lives that is so incredible, that it reads like fiction.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls details her experiences growing up in poverty with two eccentric and neglectful parents. More than once while reading her story I wondered how much more these poor children could endure. Her artistic mother was childlike and selfish, expecting her kids to take care of her. She had the most incredible selective vision and a huge case of denial. The father reminded me a little bit of the father in Paul Theroux’s The Mosquito Coast. Rex Walls was brilliant to the borderline of insanity, but never quite falling over that edge. He did have a roaring case of alcoholism, which prevented him from turning his inventive schemes into money-makers. This left the five children of the Walls family to go hungry and without adequate clothing or shelter for most of their childhood. While the circumstances were difficult, Jeannette Walls also was able to find moments of beauty in her upbringing and reasons for hope.

Reading The Glass Castle is a little like having your eyes opened to something that you don’t want to see. We hear stories about poverty in the United States, we know about all of the government programs out there to help the poor, yet families like this do actually exist. For this reason, I think people need to read this book.

Overall, I give The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls…

Literary Merit/Writing Quality – 5 bookmarks (The voice was very strong.)

Thematic Development – 4 bookmarks
 Honestly – 5 bookmarks (Very important in personal narrative…)

Dream Cast (Otherwise known as who I pictured while reading) – Jeannette Walls photo is on the back of the books, so she starred as herself. A younger Gary Busey (Rex Walls/Father), a younger Carole Kane (Rose Mary Walls/Mother).


  1. Hey! I read this not too long ago too. I'm not the biggest reader of autobiography, but I agree with your take on it and I thought the relationship with Jeannette and her father was interesting enough for me to bring up a few times in conversation. I guess she's written other books since then, but I wouldn't say they are high on my list to read.

    Looks like you run a great review blog here. What are you reading at the moment? Wishing you lots of pleasant hours reading and plenty of traffic!

  2. Thanks for checking my blog out! I'm reading more of the Night Huntress series right now, but I don't know if I want to review it until the end. It will depend on whether I have anything more to add to my review of the first book.

    If you have any book suggestions, I will try to read them and review.