Book Review

The Glass Castle Book Review: Tale of Family Disasters and Unconditional Love

What makes Glass Castle special

The Glass Castle, the book by Jeannette Walls has found significant interest among American book lovers. What makes it special is the combination of once popular genre of memoir with a sharp critical glance at our society, highlighting such relevant problems as:

  • Parenting,
  • Education,
  • Homelessness,
  • Harassment and many others.

At the same time, Wells is surprisingly unwilling to accuse anyone in her book. She just narrates and paints lively pictures of her childhood, depicting numerous problematic and maybe even horrible scenes with an unfailing sense of humour.

Though not a bestseller at the time of its first publication (2005), the “Glass Castle” has quickly obtained huge popularity and enjoyed continuous popularity since then. Some parallels could be found between this book and many examples of classic literature, such as Gothic novels.

Unlike classic memoirs of the past, “Glass Castle” is set in the 1970s’ America but the adventures of the heroine – that is, the author herself – and her little brother and sisters might seem too picturesque for almost everyone, especially those living in a big city. Of course, certain exaggerations might have been made, yet this story together with a typical reader’s reaction to it just shows the really problematic conditions in which thousands of rural American families thrive. 

The Glass Castle Book

Dark and Bright Sides of Walls Family Life in the Glass Castle

The Book Plot in Short

The plot is quite simple: it shows how Walls’ parents not really prepared to the challenges of family life were not able to secure any solid income as well, which was the cause of many unhappy events afterwards. Main negative factors were connected together, particularly:

  1. Walls’ father, despite his many talents, could not get a stable job because of his drinking habits
  2. Walls’ mother has been neglecting her children, letting them spend most of their time by themselves and get an education at home
  3. Parents’ recklessness and family’s frequent movements from town to town continuously led to children getting in trouble a lot
  4. Because of the above problems, family’s living conditions continued to deteriorate which caused even more problems for the children

In addition to their parents’ poor work and parenting skills, Wells’ story depicts numerous situations of the surrounding world’s unjust or even cruel or predatory attitude towards her and her brother, starting from scorpion’s bite in the desert to bullying at school to attacks from adult predators such as her uncle. The situation only seemed to improve after the children grew up and moved to New York, getting education and jobs there.

Author’s Good Humor as a Contrast to Negative Sides of Her Life

All of the above sounds pretty tragic, yet the Wells manages to maintain an overall positive atmosphere throughout the whole text, never forgetting to show in detail how funny the jokes of her reckless father were (such as setting their Christmas tree on fire) or how interesting it was to learn marksmanship with her father’s pistol. Every now and then a lovely family scene appears, with parents telling them about the surrounding nature more than any of their future classmates would know. The name “Glass Castle” itself sounds like a devotion to her irresponsible but gifted and charismatic father who promised his children to get a magic invisible house for them. And this makes it possible for a reader to see this book as a story of unconditional love and happiness against all odds that gives all of us hope for the future.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (24 votes, average: 4.40 out of 5)
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