The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls is a moving memoir about family troubles and imagination

A true story of a child’s hope in the midst of struggle

(Image courtesy of Scribner)

By: Tessa Perkins

This classic memoir needs no further reason to read it other than its brilliance, but now that it has been adapted into a feature film, this is the perfect time to pick up a copy and see how the two compare.

     Jeanette Walls writes this true-to-life story about her childhood and growing up extremely poor in rural Virginia. Her father, Rex Walls, is charming and spontaneous, but he can’t hold down a job and drinks the family further into poverty. Her mother, Rose Mary Walls, is a free-spirited artist who spends little time tending to her children.

     Despite all their hardships, the Walls kids (Jeanette, her sisters Maureen and Lori, and her brother Brian) take care of each other and relish the sober moments when their father feeds their imaginations. They grow up reading endless books, fantasizing about the glass castle that their father talks about building with them, and planning their escape to a better life in New York City.

     As an adult, Jeannette is a successful writer who struggles to reconcile her past and present identities, while looking back at the events of her tumultuous childhood. This is a deeply captivating read with complex characters and even more complex family dynamics.