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  Library Journal Review

MSNBC gossip columnist Walls (Dish: The Inside Story on the World of Gossip) wants to set the record straight about her background. Writing from a child's perspective, she relates the peripatetic lifestyle of her family, brought on by an alcoholic father and an artist mother who feels that rules and discipline hold people back. Neither parent holds a job for long, which forces the family either to skedaddle when the bills mount up or to move in with in-laws. The kids end up having to fend for themselves, endure the teasing of their schoolmates, sleep on cardboard boxes, and scrounge for food. This is an extreme example of a dysfunctional family, and Walls does not shrink from exposing every detail. With one parental relapse after another, the reader begins to wonder how Walls will break out. Finally, she does so by joining her school newspaper and finding her calling, then moving to New York City to pursue it. Walls, who openly expresses her shame and embarrassment about her parents, seems to have written this memoir to forgive herself for hiding her background. While she may be glad to get it off her chest, the reader is none the better for it. For large public libraries only.-Gina Kaiser, Univ. of the Sciences in Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Booklist Review

Walls, who spent years trying to hide her childhood experiences, allows the story to spill out in this remarkable recollection of growing up. From her current perspective as a contributor to MSNBC online, she remembers the poverty, hunger, jokes, and bullying she and her siblings endured, and she looks back at her parents: her flighty, self-indulgent mother, a Pollyanna unwilling to assume the responsibilities of parenting, and her father, troubled, brilliant Rex, whose ability to turn his family's downward-spiraling circumstances into adventures allowed his children to excuse his imperfections until they grew old enough to understand what he had done to them--and to himself. His grand plans to build a home for the family never evolved: the hole for the foundation of the The Glass Castle, as the dream house was called, became the family garbage dump, and, of course, a metaphor for Rex Walls' life. Shocking, sad, and occasionally bitter, this gracefully written account speaks candidly, yet with surprising affection, about parents and about the strength of family ties--for both good and ill. --Stephanie Zvirin Copyright 2005 Booklist

  Kirkus Review

An account of growing up nomadic, starry-eyed, and dirt poor in the '60s and '70s, by gossip journalist Walls (Dish, 2000). From her first memory, of catching fire while boiling hotdogs by herself in the trailer park her family was passing through, to her last glimpse of her mother, picking through a New York City Dumpster, Walls's detached, direct, and unflinching account of her rags-to-riches life proves a troubling ride. Her parents, Rex Walls, from the poor mining town of Welch, West Virginia, and Rose Mary, a well-educated artist from Phoenix, love a good adventure and usually don't take into account the care of the children who keep arriving--Lori, Jeannette, Brian, and Maureen--leaving them largely to fend for themselves. For entrepreneur and drinker Rex, "Doing the skedaddle" means getting out of town fast, pursued by creditors. Rex is a dreamer, and someday his gold-digging tool (the Prospector), or, better, his ingenious ideas for energy-efficiency, will fund the building of his desert dream house, the Glass Castle. But moving from Las Vegas to San Francisco to Nevada and back to rock-bottom Welch provides a precarious existence for the kids--on-and-off schooling, living with exposed wiring and no heat or plumbing, having little or nothing to eat. Protesting their paranoia toward authority and their insistence on "true values" for their children ("What doesn't kill you will make you stronger," chirps Mom), these parents have some dubious nurturing practices, such as teaching the children to con and shoplift. The deprivations do sharpen the wits of the children--leading to the family's collective escape to New York City, where they all make good, even the parents, who are content to live homeless. The author's tell-it-like-it-was memoir is moving because it's unsentimental; she neither demonizes nor idealizes her parents, and there remains an admirable libertarian quality about them, though it justifiably elicits the children's exasperation and disgust. Walls's journalistic bare-bones style makes for a chilling, wrenching, incredible testimony of childhood neglect. A pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps, thoroughly American story. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Summary
Now a major motion picture from Lionsgate starring Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, and Naomi Watts. <br> <br> MORE THAN SEVEN YEARS ON THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER LIST <br> The perennially bestselling, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, "nothing short of spectacular" ( Entertainment Weekly ) memoir from one of the world's most gifted storytellers.<br> <br> The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.<br> <br> The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.<br> <br> The Glass Castle is truly astonishing--a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.
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