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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.
The Walls children learned to take
care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and
protected one another, and eventually found
their way to
. Their parents followed them, choosing to be
homeless even as their children prospered.
The Glass Castle is truly
astonishing—a memoir permeated by the
intense love of a peculiar, but loyal family.
Jeannette Walls has a story to tell, and
tells it brilliantly, without an ounce of
Jeannette Walls lives in
and is married to the writer John Taylor.
She is a regular contributor to MSNBC and has
worked at several publications, including
is the “glass castle” and what does
it signify to Jeannette and her father?
first story Walls tells of her childhood
is that of her burning herself severely
at age three.
Why do you think she opens with
that story, and how does it set the stage
for the rest of the memoir?
kind of man was Rex Walls? What were his
strengths and weaknesses, his flaws and
kind of woman was Rose Mary Walls? What
did you think about her description of
herself as an “excitement addict” on
college, Jeannette is singled out by a
professor for not understanding the
plight of homeless people; instead of
defending herself, she keeps quiet. Why
do you think she does this? Is
homelessness a choice?
two major pieces of the memoir—one half
set in the desert and one half in
—feel distinct. What effect did such a
big move have on the family—and on your
reading of the story? How would you
describe the shift in the book’s tone?
was Jeannette’s relationship to her
siblings? Were you surprised to learn
that, as adults, Jeannette and her
siblings remained close to their parents?
Why do you think this is?
do parents owe children and what do
children owe parents?
scenes were the most memorable for you?
Which were the most shocking, the most
inspiring, or the funniest?
it portrays an incredibly hard scrabble
life, The Glass Castle is never
sad or depressing. How do you think that
the author achieved that effect?
most extraordinary thing about The
Glass Castle is that despite
everything, Jeannette Walls refuses to
condemn her parents. Were you able to be
Questions apapted from http://www.simonandschuster.com/