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Memoir Spotlight: Jeannette Walls

Literary Criticism and Significance

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Of course, I admit, I have a firmly-seated belief that the strongest and most creative of personalities are forged in fire; Maureen just didn't get burned enough to see the necessity of making a different life for herself.

That, and she was separated from her other siblings by so many years that they took care of her more than they tried to include her in their effort to survive. I loved this book. Walls' short but revealing scenes were detail and character-driven, and there were several times I caught myself chuckling at some absolute absurdity or marveling at an unexpected bit of wisdom from someone who should have been a totally unreliable source.

And I guess that's one of the main things I came away with after reading this book. Wisdom can come from anyone And the trick to surviving is to take those things that make us better and stronger with us, and to leave the rest behind. View all 10 comments. Who here has seen the show Shameless?

I am thinking of the American version, but I know there is a British one, too, that it is based on. To me, that show could have been inspired by this memoir. Frank Gallagher and Rex Walls are the same guy! I enjoyed all the vignettes from Jeannette Walls' life. She did a great job throwing them all together to create a story even without a specific plot.

I am not sure that any of the stories lasted more than a few pages, but each one of them was interesting Who here has seen the show Shameless? I am not sure that any of the stories lasted more than a few pages, but each one of them was interesting and important in its own way. I listened to the book and it was great because it was was read by the author.

I think that this is how all audio memoirs should be. Also, I thought it was interesting that although some of the stories made me want to reach through the speaker and shake her parents, she told the story without any positive or negative inflection. It was like she was saying, "here is my story, you decide how you want to be affected by it. Some might be frustrated.

Others might be brought to tears. But, in the end, I think there is a little something for everyone here. View all 48 comments. May 28, Lola rated it it was amazing Shelves: This story is proof that there are books out there that can change the way you look at the world Just waiting for you to give them a chance.

Don't let them wait too long. You need them in your life. View all 17 comments. Walls begins the book by explaining what has prompted her to write about her family: La "The Glass Castle" is a memoir written by gossip columnist Jeanette Walls, which details her unconventional childhood growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother who seems to be mentally ill.

Later, Walls confronts her mother, asking what she is supposed to tell people about her parents, and her mother replies, "Just tell the truth.

The first third of the memoir deals with her young childhood on the west coast, as her parents live as nomads, moving frequently between desert towns, always seeking the next adventure. Walls' mother is the key figure we meet here: In a key passage, Walls' mother takes the kids with her to give them art lessons, as she paints and studies the Joshua tree.

Walls tells her mother of her plan to dig up the tree, replant it, and protect it so it can go straight. Walls' mother admonishes her, "You'd be destroying what makes it special.

It's the Joshua tree's struggle that gives its beauty. The family's time in West Virginia makes up the next third of the story and depicts a depressed life in a depressed town. It is in West Virginia where the family seems to drift apart, particularly Walls' father, who up to this point, had been worshipped and revered by his daughter. Like Walls' mom, her dad has a lot of imagination; while he takes odd jobs that never last long, his real dream is to strike it rich with one of his inventions.

He promises, once he has found his gold, that he is going to build a "glass castle" — his most special project — a great big house for the family to live in.

Once in West Virginia, Walls and her brother figure they will make the best of the situation, and they spend a month digging a hole in the ground to serve as the foundation for the glass castle.

But because the family can't pay for trash collection, their father instructs them instead to use the hole for the family's garbage. Although she has always been her father's defender, Walls grows disillusioned with her father, eventually telling him he will never build the glass castle. Determined not to end up like her parents, Walls moves to New York, where the last third of the book transpires.

It is here that Walls "makes it," graduating from college, gaining employment as a writer, marrying a rich husband, and settling into a Park Avenue apartment. Interestingly, while Walls has rejected her parents' lifestyle, it is now their turn to reject hers. Her father refuses to visit the Park Avenue apartment, while her mother, after visiting the apartment, asks Walls, "Where are the values I raised you with?

By crafting the memoir around stories of her childhood, we as readers are often troubled, not just because of the content of the stories but because the stories don't provide much in the way of reflection or introspection.

It is, in fact, unclear what Walls actually does value — will she continue to identify success with the material trappings of her "normal" life in New York, or will she ultimately reject the conventional life, as her parents did? Without more reflection from Walls, particularly in this concluding section of the book, readers are left to their own interpretation of "the truth" about her parents — are they just a drunk father and a lazy mother, or is there something more to it?

The "Glass Castle" is an addicting page-turner that should captivate any reader. I chose to discount some of her parents' flaws and instead read this book as an homage to her parents.

To me, the key passage in the book is when Walls visits a classmate's home in West Virginia and sees the empty walls in the house in stark contrast to her own home, which is cluttered with paintings and books and decorations and rejects the notion that her classmate's father, passed out on the couch, bares any resemblance to her own father.

After Walls recounts the story to her family, her mother replies that she should show compassion for her classmate because not everybody has "all the advantages you kids do. Walls' family may not provide her with much in the way of tangible goods, but they give her things that are more lasting — a belief in herself, a passion for reading and writing, an appreciation for things a lot of us take for granted, and most of all love.

In the end, it was not important whether her parents actually built her a glass castle. It was that they gave her the idea of a glass castle.

By overcoming her shame for her parents and writing this memoir, Walls seems to recognize this truth about her parents — that, like the Joshua tree, there was beauty in their struggle.

View all 16 comments. Mar 16, Raeleen Lemay rated it it was amazing Shelves: Difficult to read at times, but a marvellous book. View all 3 comments. Jul 13, Fabian rated it really liked it. The warning is this: If you are going to become parents you must simply forego being bohemian. Peculiar upbringings are what memoirs are made of!

When memoirs are like this, invigoratingly Roald Dahlesque in painting pictures The warning is this: When memoirs are like this, invigoratingly Roald Dahlesque in painting pictures of past predicaments No matter how bad you have it, someone somewhere sometime probably had it worse.

The Walls children 3 of the 4, at least become inspired by their nomadic parents, wanting to be so unlike their progenitors that they actually turn their lives around. That she appreciates it and maintains a smile is the very heart of this nonfic gem. PS--Can't wait to see the movie. View all 8 comments. Oct 13, Annalisa rated it it was amazing Recommended to Annalisa by: What I loved about this book is this: If she had been bitter in her description it would not have been believable, but instead it was tinged with forgiveness making me respect her for not only surviving such a strange childhood to become a successful, even functioning, adult but for being able to What I loved about this book is this: If she had been bitter in her description it would not have been believable, but instead it was tinged with forgiveness making me respect her for not only surviving such a strange childhood to become a successful, even functioning, adult but for being able to view her past with impartiality.

What was thought-provoking for me was the idea that if you think you're a victim you are and if you don't you're not. As appalling as her mother's reaction was to her troubles, it's true. We do overprotect our children at the price of their own growth sometimes.

And in this society we are on the jumpy side when it comes to misconduct, but telling someone they have been victimized isn't always best for them. We've gone so much to the other extreme that it was good to reconsider a sway more toward center. There has to be a medium where we aren't making children grow up as toddlers but also not sheltering them from making their own decisions until their adults. There are also a lot of class "poor" mentalities in the book. The way the family never planned for the future as in aimed to use any gift or income to exponentially improve their lives, but horded means until they ran out.

They tore down what they had until it ran out. They lived day to day. They took advantage when they could. The old adage that you give a man a fish he'll eat for a day but teach him to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime is moot. They were not concerned with bettering their station in life only getting all they could out of it today. I found it strange that both parents were so highly intelligent and capable and yet they chose to be homeless. It bothered me that they thought the best existence would be to throw their burdens on society and let it care for them without realizing, or caring, that someone was paying and working for their existence.

It bothered me that they didn't think of their children's welfare above their own but used them like they would any other member of society. At times I found my blood boiling at the actions of her parents.

That's what dysfunction will do to you. And yet, she presents the incidents without anger or hurt. It shaped her glasses of the world. But the past isn't a happy place to live. She took what good she could from her experience or bad to learn from and moved determinedly from a childhood she didn't enjoy into an adulthood she could pick.

And that's what a memoir should do: View all 5 comments. May 23, Kate rated it really liked it Shelves: This book really made me angry--why can people who have absolutely no business having kids be able to have four?

In the beginning, the Walls family is always on the run. The father is an alcoholic, who is intelligent, but believes everything upon everything is a conspiracy. He can't get a job because of the mafia, the government, the gestapo The mother has a teaching degree, but chooses to be an artist.

The family is barely able to scrape by; the father spends any money they This book really made me angry--why can people who have absolutely no business having kids be able to have four? The family is barely able to scrape by; the father spends any money they have on alcohol, the kids barely eat, and all this time, the mother sits around, doing nothing but reading.

In fact, at one point, the 12 year old narrator Jeannette tells her mother that she needs to get a job, and her mother says that it's "not fair" that she has to work.

Later, when Jeannette suggests that her mother get a job and home with a wealthy family and take care of the kids, her mother says, "I've spent my whole life taking care of people!

I just want to take care of me. I know that there are people like Jeannette's parents who feed their children margarine sandwiches and tell them to go to the bathroom in a bucket that is dumped outside because there's no indoor plumbing and the "toilet" is already completely filled. I know that these people exist, but I still can't believe it.

A part of me was hoping that Walls pulled a James Frey and made a lot of this up, but another part of me realizes she probably didn't. Despite the knot in the pit of my stomach, I enjoyed the book. After all, only a book this engaging and well-written could spark such a vivid and real response. View all 37 comments. Sep 17, Juliet rated it it was ok.

It's not that I hated The Glass Castle, it's just that it irritated me with its self-conscious narrative style. Too much "look at how horrible things were! The same stories are told and re-told throughout the memoir novel , and they rely too much on symbolism for my taste. I don't know how many times The Glass Castle is mentioned, but it was clear enough the first time we're told about it.

Yes, I get it. Pretty shiny vulnerable fragile fortress - drunk father whose fantasies are selfish and unstable. Mother who's out to lunch. No money - just imaginations. Then, before we really have connected to any of the characters in their youth, we fast forward to today's NYC in which lo and behold, the storyteller is a successful writer.

Basically, this book is a pale imitation of The Liar's Club. Karr's book is a jump off a cliff into a bravely realized memoir with enormous depth in the details, not to mention the writer's conflicted feelings about the meaning of father, of mother, of family, of self. By being so specific about her life and her family's life, Karr touches us deeply about family and self, too.

Walls had an interesting life, but the story reads like someone else's family's trip. So that's why I'm giving it a 2. View all 40 comments. May 01, Melki rated it really liked it Shelves: This is not a review. There are already thousands of those. Instead, I present an anecdote. I read this in for my now-defunct neighborhood book club. I felt it was important for him to learn that not every child gets to grow up in a household that has eight different video game syste This is not a review.

I felt it was important for him to learn that not every child gets to grow up in a household that has eight different video game systems. I wanted him to imagine what it would be like if his father came home one night and said "We have to move right now. Then he shut up and started to read. He never said too much about the book, though he liked the part where the rat would come to eat out of the mother's big bowl of sugar. Huh, how 'bout that? And now, seven years later, my youngest son came home with the book he has to read for English class.

Guess what it is? View all 34 comments. Jun 26, Nicole rated it it was ok Recommends it for: Why is it that I hated this book when everyone else thinks it was good? It annoyed me on so many levels. I kept thinking to myself Sure, the writing was well done, the prose effective, the story was a bit enchanting I just could NOT understand why this book got such great reviews.

In fact, the reviews is why I kept reading it. Had someone else though Why is it that I hated this book when everyone else thinks it was good? Ok, my childhood wasn't as bad as hers, I am bright, yet I hadn't the je ne se quoi to get into an Ivy league.

Perhaps, the editor deleted a HUGE chapter in her memoir which would have filled the gap between living in a weatherproof shack and going to college, but it just didn't do it for me.

Okay, so most people will likely bash me for being an idiot, but I really don't care. That's all for my rant Honestly, simply a must read.

Firstly, thank you to my friend Elyse for recommending this book. She knows what I like. I have just finished reading this books last pages whilst making my lasagne to feed my family, hastily stirring the white sauce and throwing in the bay leaves. The irony isn't lost on me.. I needed to finish this story. Mental illness is all around. This family is a perfect example, and also one of resilience.

Hey, these children have m Honestly, simply a must read. Hey, these children have more successful careers than I do! I always tell my kids that it takes all types to make the world go round.

Jeannette Wells has crafted this memoir with passion and strength and devotion, but what blew me away most of all, there was not one shred of self pity packed into this. I'm very interested in this amazing lady, I will find her books now and I so look forward to see how she's travelling. I could learn a thing or two, and that's what I'm always looking for. And she can write!! This was an amazing book that my favourite GR friend from the States recommended. I went to the library and got my copy.

Months later I came across this book in my unorganised double layered Ikea shelf thingy book shelf, that I'd borrowed from my aunt in Queensland. It turns out all of her siblings had read it, making their own notes all over the book. This was a special book, I shouldn't have taken it with me.. But I'm so glad I got to return it. It turns out my aunt had had a similar childhood - I knew she'd struggled, but didn't realise to the extent.

This book connection made me love my Aunty Donna even more. We aren't close geographically but I got to see her last month and talked about the book, and that I am grateful for. When 'people' say they've had it hard, have they really?

View all 47 comments. Jan 21, Tracy rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls Jeannette Walls proves in her astounding memoir that bad parenting and abject poverty do not necessarily condemn children to a dismal future of the same.

In "The Glass Castle" published in by Scribner, Walls reveals the intimate details of her upbringing within a dysfunctional yet loving family. Her mother is homeless — one of those bag ladies that all of us see — but now you suddenly have to wonder what it would feel like if that was your mother dangling at the fringe of our society. From this shocking moment, Walls transports you back to her earliest memory. She is three years old and suffers a terrible burn to her torso when her dress catches on fire as she is boiling hotdogs on the stove.

A long stay at the local hospital near where her family is currently living in Arizona ensues while Walls recovers. To the hospital staff, the negligence of the parents is obvious, but Jeannette does not associate the murmuring disapproval around her with her parents. If any action on the part of social services is planned, we never find out because her father, Rex Walls, plans an early check out from the hospital in his trademark "Rex Walls' style. Jeannette is whisked away with her father, mother, older sister and younger brother and the family hits the road.

It begins just one of many journeys in which the Walls family ends up in ramshackle trailers and shacks throughout the deserts of Nevada, Arizona, and California.

They stay someplace a while until Rex can't pay the rent or won't and they skip town and do it all over again. Rex inspired the title of the book with the plans, lovingly worked out on paper, for his "glass castle" that he aspires to build some day. He often reassures his children with the promise of this fanciful housing.

It is to be a solar-powered house, but first he needs to raise the money to build it, which entails numerous gold prospecting schemes that are doomed to failure. Because gold-hunting never pays the bills, Rex also finds work as an electrician or handyman. He is smart and mechanically talented, but his earnings inevitably are washed away in the flash floods of drinking that perpetually leave his family destitute. In an engulfing narrative that sweeps you deeper into an almost unimaginable existence of privation, we see how Jeannette and her siblings cope with their destructively alcoholic father and beg their mother to function and get them food.

The mother, in fact, has a teaching degree, but she rarely can drag herself into employability. Although the various rural areas where they live are always desperate for a qualified teacher, the mother cannot abide work and only occasionally holds down a job — with the help of her children who get her out of bed.

The infrequent paychecks of the mother rarely go into the rumbling bellies of her children. Rex will invariably claim his wife's paycheck and set about squandering it. This desperate state goes on for years as the Walls children sleep in cardboard boxes instead of beds, endure scalding fights between their parents, and eat anything they can find. Their mother teaches them how to swallow spoiled food by holding their noses.

But even amid these horrors of poverty and alcoholism, Jeannette Walls expresses the genuine love within her family. They are loyal to each other, and Rex, in his sober moments, is wise, encouraging, and tender with his children. Jeannette writes in such detail and uses so much imagery that the reader can visualize her experience.

My eyes were open, the sulfur stinging them, but the water was dark and my hair was wrapped around my face and i couldn't see anything" p. Tone Mood Jeannette Walls creates the tone of anger then she follows it by acceptance in this passage. There was no other way to explain it" p Jeannette sets a mood amongst the readers of either sympathy or empathy.

Sympathy because as a kid my dad never taught me how to swim like Jeannette was taught. Empathy because some people can relate to passage from the book. Does this passage provoke sympathy or empathy in you? More presentations by Famous French Inventor.

Creating downloadable prezi, be patient. Delete comment or cancel. Cancel Reply 0 characters used from the allowed. Send link to edit together this prezi using Prezi Meeting learn more: Reset share links Resets both viewing and editing links coeditors shown below are not affected. Maureen is the youngest child of the Walls family and the most different. She has blonde hair and tanned skin instead of red hair and pale skin like her siblings.

When she gets older she leaves her family and goes to California. You should always be grateful for what you have today, because you might not have it tomorrow. Which of your works would you like to tell your friends about? These links will automatically appear in your email. If you have a suggestion about this website or are experiencing a problem with it, or if you need to report abuse on the site, please let us know.

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A detailed discussion of the writing styles running throughout The Glass Castle The Glass Castle including including point of view, structure, setting, language, and meaning.

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Jeannette Walls Writing Style About the Author A famous writer and journalist Jeannette Walls is previously recognized as gossips columnist in MSNBC. She is also recognized as the author of Half Broke Horses and The Glass Castle. She has earned great name in writing. This assignment is to analyze the writing style of Walls.

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She has a different style of writing and she tells you every little detail of her life, whether you like it or not. When Jeannette Walls writes about her father, Rex Walls, you can tell that she idolizes him. Handpicked recommendations to authors who have a similar writing style to Jeannette Walls.

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Watch video · But Jeannette Walls no longer minds that it was only ever a dream. "In another way, though, I feel that it kind of has been built," Walls said. "Because it was never really about the Glass Castle. Listserv archives, FAQs, and jeannette walls writing style resources, including a directory of freelancers A couple chicken hatred toward the church fingers and a small side salad. Sophie Kinsella: Copyediting List at Indiana University for copy editors.