The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

I like to read autobiographies from time-to-time. I usually read two or three a year, about celebrities that I’m interested in. To me, The Glass Castle is a very different type of autobiography, because I have no idea who Jeannette Walls is (she’s actually a former US gossip columnist). But hers is probably the most interesting autobiography I’ve ever read. Because it reads like the very best fiction.

Jeannette Walls’s first memory is of setting herself on fire at the age of 3 because she was cooking herself some hotdogs. This was the norm in her family, as her mother didn’t believe in spending time making a meal only for it to disappear. If the kids wanted to eat, they made it themselves. But only when there was food in the cupboards, which there often wasn’t.

The Glass Castle is the story of a childhood lived in extreme poverty, frequently moving to escape unpaid debts. Jeannette and her brother and sisters grew up in a house with no plumbing or electricity, which they tried to repair themselves using cardboard and rubbish. They rarely washed, often went hungry, were never warm and didn’t always go to school. Yet their parents could never see anything wrong. They lived in their own worlds – their mother an artist and their father an alcoholic and a dreamer, full of big ideas. He was always one job or one win away from fulfilling his dream of building the ultimate home – the Glass Castle.

The early parts of the book, when the Walls family lived in the desert, reminded me a bit of The Goldfinch – due to both the setting and the feeling of children being abandoned and left to their own devices. There are also shades of Caitlin Moran’s childhood – of growing up in poverty and not going to school. But The Glass Castle is on a whole different level.

It is a moving and beautiful read, which doesn’t make any judgements at all about her parents and their lack of care. You may never have heard of Jeannette Walls, but you will love her life story.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, Book review, The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls


Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. This is definitely the sort of book I would enjoy, I love an autobiography. The best ones I’ve read were Keith Allen and Howard Marks. Not people I’d heard of before reading, and definitely not my sort of people but they had really lived! I have added the Glass Castle to my Amazon basket, will be buying it soon!

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    • It sounds like this will be right up your street! Let me know what you think of it when you’ve read it, I’m sure you will love it!

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  2. I haven’t heard of her before this post but you’ve definitely got me interested! Thanks for sharing with #readwithme

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    • It’s definitely worth a read! It really didn’t matter at all that I’d never heard of her.

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    • It really is fascinating! It didn’t matter at all to me that I’d never heard of her.

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  3. This sounds like such a great read and I’ll be adding it to my TBR pile! #readwithme

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    • Thanks very much, it’s definitely worth a read!

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  4. I don’t tend to read autobiographies and I’ve not heard of Jeanette Walls either. Hard to imagine a child having to cook their own food at age 3. My much older boys are always reluctant to help these days #readwithme

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    • It was a real eye-opener! My much older boys don’t help out much either!

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  5. I don’t often read autobiographies but this does sound like a good read. Think I will add to my wishlist #readwithme

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    • It’s a really good read! It hardly feels like an autobiography at all.

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