Summer Reading: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

by Aggie Swituszak, Product Specialist


The second book I tackled this summer was The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I struggled to pick up this book and was in a “reading slump”. After finishing my first book I felt fairly accomplished and thought “this is a good stopping point”. However, my drive to accomplish my goals is far too strong so I forced myself back into the bookstore to find my next read. Landing on this book, it was one I had always wanted to read but never felt like I had the time to do so. Jeannette Walls’ upbringing is so unique and harrowing that at times I had felt I was reading a piece of fiction rather than a memoir. Seemingly a short read for being only 288 pages, the unbelievable stories while following Jeannette grow up made me feel as though I had lived alongside her through these experiences and finished the book feeling as though I had read triple the amount of the page count.


This novel starts by throwing us into Jeannette’s world of the present day, where she is a well-off journalist and sees her mother dumpster diving in the alleyways of New York City. The rest of the book goes into depth following Jeanette from the first things she can remember living nomadically throughout Arizona and bouncing around the states to moving herself out to New York City in the hopes of bettering her life. From running out of hospitals to escape bills, always running from “the gestapo”, and never being allowed to take possessions when moving around, the Walls family is unconventional in every way. Jeannette also did an excellent job in displaying her relationship with her parents, from childlike idolization to growing up and seeing their faults. This book does a great job of highlighting mental health, familial relationships, and the toils of growing up. Though her upbringing came with unimaginable hardships, most of us can relate to something in this novel at one point or another.


If you were to ask me to summarize this book into just one word I would say “resilience”. I don’t want to ruin the storyline for future readers but with all the hardships and roadblocks the Walls kids undergo it is inspiring to see them all heal and mature in their own ways and become successful. This book has taught me to reflect on my own hardships, whatever size they come in, and remind myself that no matter the number of roadblocks there is always a way to overcome them. I urge everyone to pick up this book and give it a read as it is unlike any other memoir I have read before!