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Extended Audio Sample The Glass Castle: A Memoir Audiobook, by Jeannette Walls Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.38725 out of 54.38725 out of 54.38725 out of 54.38725 out of 54.38725 out of 5 4.39 (40 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jeannette Walls Narrator: Jeannette Walls Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2010 ISBN: 9781442339712
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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 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 MSNBC.com, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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, New York Times bestselling author

  • “A very good memoir. At one point, describing her early literary tastes, Walls mentions that ‘my favorite books all involved people dealing with hardships.’ And she has succeeded in doing what most writers set out to do—to write the kind of book they themselves most want to read.” 

    New York Times

  • “Tragic and comic at the same time…an outrageous story, one that will break your heart.” 

    Sunday Independent (London)

  • “Walls doesn’t pull her punches…in this excellent, unusual book…fantastic storytelling.” 

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • An ALA Notable Book for Nonfiction
  • Winner of the 2006 YALSA Alex Award
  • Nominated for the 2008 Abraham Lincoln Award
  • A #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2005 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tasha Swinney | 2/8/2014

    " I finished The Glass Castle in just over two days of reading. By the time I got to the last line, I had to read it twice, it is THAT beautifully written. It is the jaw-dropping, raw, sincere story of a family of kids who survived devastating poverty and cripplingly prideful parentage. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Lou | 2/2/2014

    " April 2013 book club selection. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Wendy | 1/27/2014

    " Some explanation of why people are homeless, it is a choice for some. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Annie | 1/15/2014

    " A beautiful story of hardship. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevin | 1/15/2014

    " Just when I thought I was sick of memoir, a lovely and enchanting neighbor recommended this book to me. It was difficult to put down. I imagine some parts were embellished but the story was fantastic. The best part is that the author let her remarkable story tell itself - or perhaps I should say that she did a great job of staying out of the story's way. No digressions about how certain events made her feel, no ridiculous sidebars about what an event meant in the big picture or how it might fit a narrative she wanted to create. She just told what happened to her and that was enough to compel you to keep reading. The book also made me think about parenting and how resilient children really are, something that's important for me to keep in mind. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Krysti | 1/15/2014

    " I really had a hard time getting into this book. After I got past the hump it was great. I couldn't wait to get home to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Melinda | 1/15/2014

    " Riveting! Forces the reader to think about life, children, nature vs. nurture, etc. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joyce | 1/11/2014

    " Eccentric parents, survivalist children. So glad they made it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anne Marie | 1/2/2014

    " This was an excellent read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karen Kraushaar | 12/26/2013

    " This is on my list of all time favorites. I read it years ago, but it truly is unforgettable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Elle Vindedahl | 12/18/2013

    " This is the best book I've ever read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caitlin | 12/7/2013

    " Super interesting story and even more so because it's true! Well written. Captures the audience. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daniela | 11/29/2013

    " At first I wasnt into it, and then I couldnt put it down. What a crazy story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sam Peters | 9/20/2013

    " I'm usually not a huge fan of memoirs, but this one was fascinating. It really makes you look at poverty in a whole new way. It's amazing how Mrs. Walls tells the story of her childhood with such nostalgia, because in reality it was a very abusive and neglectful situation. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Julie Croft | 9/1/2013

    " Found a family more dysfunctional than mine.. was that good? I think so! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karina | 7/16/2013

    " Amazing book. Really moving and surprisingly wonderful. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Naja W | 7/4/2013

    " One of my favourites. You couldn't help but feel like you were with Jeannette through her story. I felt every emotion reading this one. Never a dull moment and humorous most of all. I can't believe people have stories like these to tell! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hillary | 4/3/2013

    " This was an entertaining quick read. It really made me appreciate how lucky I am to have great parents! (even if they weren't always "cool"). Walls's tales of her childhood are shocking and unique. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Siobhan | 3/7/2013

    " This is one of the best books I've ever read, definitely one I couldn't put down with lots of tears in joy and sadness. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Barbara Suozzi | 10/15/2012

    " Enjoyed it immensely, although I wish it were written a little better. It's hard to write that which is so close to your heart, though. Really puts one's own life into perspective. Definitely worth reading. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carrie Sanders-hartley | 7/24/2012

    " Wow! Hard to believe this is a memoir. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Frank | 2/13/2012

    " Amazing success story. Eye opening. I loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Renée H | 2/12/2012

    " Refreshing and inspirational. Really enjoyed it!! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Taylor Vohs | 11/25/2011

    " A very raw book about the childhood of a girl who had dreams bigger than her family's. A good read but can be a bit too raw and descriptive for my liking. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cyndee | 11/7/2011

    " This had many, many difficult passages. True story of what a family went through because of the parent's decisions and eccentricities. Very hard to read in places. BUT, what this girl overcame and how she survives is worth the story. No hope of God in this book........ "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Valerie Crow | 10/5/2011

    " Didn't even finish it. Very disappointed! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Annpinn | 8/14/2011

    " I had read Half Broke Horses first. I think it helped me to understand and sink into this book better. Loved it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Cindy Barnhisel | 6/11/2011

    " I read this for a book club and really enjoyed it! The author is well written and you get emtionally pulled into the book. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Angelaswing | 5/24/2011

    " so inspirational. Walls endures so much, but her spirit triumphs through all her obstacles. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol | 5/24/2011

    " Great book. Thanks, Laurie, I think for recommending it. Amazing that people are so resilient after enduring unimaginable hardships in their childhood. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carrie | 5/24/2011

    " Really draws you in to the crazy childhood these kids had. Also very inspiring how the character rose above her childhood. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Donna | 5/24/2011

    " Amazing true life adventure of poverty in America, mixed with mental illness. And the message that there are survivor's that arise from the rubble. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kellie | 5/24/2011

    " A modern A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, beautifully written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lisa | 5/24/2011

    " Another gem from the vacay condo. Seriously well written memoir. Walls has an engaging and no-nonsense/frills writing voice. Not often you find both. She tells the story as it is, but subtly invites you into the heart of her family. Enjoyed it immensely. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marshellen | 5/24/2011

    " One of my all time favorites! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 5/24/2011

    " I thought this was a great book. I couldn't read it fast enough. It was quite a heartbreaking family story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michelle | 5/24/2011

    " Interesting memoir of pulling one's self up by their bootstraps. Personally, I hated those parents. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jessica | 5/23/2011

    " Heart-breaking and triumphant. Such struggles for a young girl and her siblings, but such resilience! Couldn't put it down! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle | 5/23/2011

    " I loved reading this book. I was sucked into her life and the despair she must have felt. I could almost relate, my life wasn't as crazy though. "

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About the Author
Author Jeannette WallsJeannette Walls graduated from Barnard College and was a journalist in New York. Her memoir, The Glass Castle, has been a New York Times bestseller for more than six years. She is also the author of the instant New York Times bestsellers The Silver Star and Half Broke Horses, which was named one of the ten best books of 2009 by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Walls lives in rural Virginia with her husband, the writer John Taylor.