The Glass Castle

  • by Jeannette Walls
  • Narrated by Jeannette Walls
  • 10 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 15 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 Walls 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.
What is so astonishing about Jeannette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents with such deep affection and generosity. Hers is a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.
For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.


What the Critics Say

"Jeannette Walls has carved a story with precision and grace out of one of the most chaotic, heartbreaking childhoods ever to be set down on the page. This deeply affecting memoir is a triumph in every possible way, and it does what all good books should: it affirms our faith in the human spirit." (Dani Shapiro, author of Family History)
"The Glass Castle is the saga of the restless, indomitable Walls family, led by a grand eccentric and his tempestuous artist wife. Jeannette Walls has survived poverty, fires, and near starvation to triumph. She has written this amazing tale with honesty and love." (Patricia Bosworth, author of Anything Your Little Heart Desires and Diane Arbus: A Biography)
"Just read the first pages of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and I defy you not to go on. It's funny and sad and quirky and loving. I was incredibly touched by it." (Dominick Dunne, author of The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Read the print version!

I've listened to well over 200 audiobooks, and this is the first time I truly wished I had read the print version instead. Usually I feel the narration brings the story to life, but no so here. It makes sense to have the author narrate a memoir, but this was absolutely horrendous! Walls' habit of speaking in pattern, with every sentence sounding exactly the same, simply accentuates the choppy writing style. Instead of being charming, her subtle West Virginia accent became tortuous- she "set" rather than "sat", there was "suit" in the stove pipe instead of "soot", and every word ending in "ing" was pronounced "'in' "(walkin', talkin' etc.). The entire audiobook sounds like it was told by a crabby 12 year old. If I hadn't been trying to finish in time for my book club meeting I would have abandoned the audiobook. The story itself is engaging- a true example of the truth being stranger than fiction- and I truly admire her strength, tenacity and resilience. I would give the audiobook 2.5 stars, but I
think the print version, without the dreadful narration, would merit 4.
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- J. McLean

Like peeping through your fingers at a car wreck

The Glass Castle is the remarkable tale of Jeannette Walls growing up with her whacky parents. It is such an entertaining, outrageous story that it is hard to believe. Assuming that it is true, Walls' youth certainly provides some framework of appreciation for me as I look back at my "boring", stable family. If it is all hyperbole, then it is an inventive memoir of a highly dysfunctional family. Either way, it is a very entertaining listen.
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- Elisabeth

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-28-2010
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio