Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls

Cover ImageFinished 8-1-10, rating 5/5, memoir, pub. 2005

Mom always said people worried too much about their children.  Suffering when you’re young is good for you, she said.  It immunized your body and your soul, and that was why she ignored us kids when we cried.  Fussing over children who cry only encourages them, she told us.  That’s positive reinforcement for negative behavior.

page 28

I usually start with a recap of the book, but today I’m starting with the fact that I loved this memoir.  I don’t read a lot of memoirs, a few a year at most, but this one has me thinking that I’ve just been reading the wrong ones.  I was completely captivated by the life of Jeannette and her family.  I knew I wanted Jason to read it, but I think I may have ruined it for him because I couldn’t stop from sharing the horrifying, sad, and sometimes inspirational stories in the book.

For those that aren’t familiar Jeannette writes about her childhood traveling from state to state with her parents and three siblings.  She starts by telling her first memory, when she was boiling hotdogs and caught herself on fire – at the age of three.  She spends six weeks in the hospital before her father breaks her out.  So begins the adventure that is her life.  Her charismatic father convinces the kids that the FBI are on their tail so they have to stay on the run.  In reality he is a drunk who cannot hold onto a job or money.  The mother seems harmless enough at first, but only got worse with every story told.  And by the end I was beyond mad at her complete lack of caring.  The children grow up in extreme poverty.

It is the even-handed way that Walls tells her story that makes this book so wonderful.  She is not bitter or pointing fingers.  During her childhood years she and her siblings accepted their life and their parents and it was only later after  a move to West Virginia when things became unbearable that she became frustrated.  I am in such awe of her ability to come out of her situation intact and successful.  I don’t really want to spoil too many details because I think once you start reading it you won’t be able to put it down and at 288 pages it won’t take you long to finish.  Cannot recommend it highly enough.


This is from my personal library and was chosen by Marce, JoJo, Jenners, Molly, Sheral, Debby, Rebecca, Alita, Soft Drink, Melissa, and Angie.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Excellent memoir that is so unbelievable it wouldn’t work if it was fiction.”  Angie

“A fantastic memoir about a tough childhood, but the author refrains from being all ‘woe is me'”  Soft Drink

“I read this last year and LOVED it. I can’t wait for Walls’ 2nd book.”  Rebecca

“Excellent & unforgettable”  Sheral

“The memoir I have read in the fastest sitting. Sucks you right in.”  Molly

“One of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. You won’t easily forget it.”  Jenners

August 5, 2010 - Posted by | 5 Star Books | ,


  1. Terrific review, Stacy. I enjoyed this book a great deal too.

    Comment by Beth Hoffman | August 5, 2010 | Reply

  2. I don’t know why I haven’t been able to pick this up and read for the 2+ years it’s been sitting on my shelf. I really need to get to it.

    Comment by Trisha | August 5, 2010 | Reply

    • It might have stayed on my shelf too if so many people hadn’t voted for it.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 6, 2010 | Reply

  3. I loved this book too. Its an amazing story, for sure!

    Comment by bermudaonion | August 5, 2010 | Reply

  4. I did not read this. But it sure has a lot of people loving it!

    Comment by rhapsodyinbooks | August 5, 2010 | Reply

  5. I have yet to find a reader not totally engaged by this book. I knew it would score high marks from you. Terrific quote selection. So hard to narrow them down – before you know it you are tempted to quote the whole damn thing!

    Comment by Bumbles | August 5, 2010 | Reply

    • There were so many great passages from the book I could have done a whole post just on quotes. You did a great job choosing this book for me 🙂

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 6, 2010 | Reply

  6. This is one of my absolute favorite books, so happy you liked it too.

    I read this 4-5 years back and I still remember it fondly.

    Comment by VioletCrush | August 5, 2010 | Reply

    • I think it will stick with me too!

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 6, 2010 | Reply

  7. I read this when it first came out, with my book club. I didn’t really connect with it, but I understood and appreciated it more when I heard the author speak at the National Book Festival in DC last year.

    Comment by Nicole | August 5, 2010 | Reply

    • I can’t say I connected with any of her experiences, but I did love the way she told her story.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 6, 2010 | Reply

  8. Yaaay, so glad you enjoyed it. Lucky for me it was my 1st Memoir so I have promised myself to read more.

    Comment by Marce | August 5, 2010 | Reply

    • I don’t think they’re all this good 😉

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 6, 2010 | Reply

  9. I’m so glad you loved it, too! My mom and I both read it 2 1/2-3 years ago, and we still talk about it. It’s a story that stays with you long after you’ve finished the book.

    Comment by alitareads | August 6, 2010 | Reply

    • This is going to my mom when I see her next 🙂

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 6, 2010 | Reply

  10. This seems to be a book enjoyed by so many people. If you say it is a 5/5 I really should pay attention. It’s now on my list of books to find.

    Comment by Margot | August 6, 2010 | Reply

    • I don’t think you’ll b e sorry, Margot.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 6, 2010 | Reply

  11. I really enjoyed it too. But enjoying seems the wrong term. It was soooo horrifying. Ugh.

    Comment by pinkflipflops | August 6, 2010 | Reply

    • It was definitely eye opening. Made me appreciate my childhood.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 8, 2010 | Reply

  12. So glad you liked it!! It still remains one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read.

    Comment by Jenners | August 6, 2010 | Reply

    • Thank you for voting for it 🙂

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 8, 2010 | Reply

  13. Oh good, I’m glad you liked it! Mary Karr has a similar tell it like it is without self-pity style. You might consider her books the next time you’re in the mood for a memoir. 😀

    Comment by softdrink | August 6, 2010 | Reply

    • I read The Liar’s Club years ago, but wasn’t as impressed as I was with this one. Thanks for recommending it.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 8, 2010 | Reply

  14. I am going to go and request this one right now.

    Comment by Nise' | August 7, 2010 | Reply

    • I hope you like it 🙂

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 8, 2010 | Reply

  15. Great review Stacy! It is on my tbr pile!

    Comment by gautami tripathy | August 7, 2010 | Reply

    • Move it to the top 🙂

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 8, 2010 | Reply

  16. This really is a fantastic book. I loved her attitude.

    Comment by Thoughts of Joy | August 8, 2010 | Reply

    • I agree. Her attitude is what made the memoir appealing.

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 11, 2010 | Reply

  17. This was gut wrenching but wonderful!

    Comment by Staci | August 10, 2010 | Reply

    • It made me appreciate my parents and normal childhood!

      Comment by stacybuckeye | August 11, 2010 | Reply

  18. […] handed out my last book at 4:40 at Walgreens.  World Book Night was a success   I chose The Glass Castle and Jason reminded me last night about how I came to read The Glass Castle.  Jason is not a […]

    Pingback by World Book Night/Day | Stacy's Books | April 23, 2012 | Reply

  19. […] The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls […]

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  20. […] Top post-Monday Movie Meme- Bring on the Heat  Top book review-The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls […]

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