The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. Shelbee Balentine 5th period.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

From:            Shelbee Balentine

Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and salvation. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four childern. In the beginning, they lived like nomads, moving among Southwest desert towns, camping in the moutains. Rex was a charismatic, brilliant man who, when sober, captured his childeren’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and above all, how to embrace life fearlessly. Rose Mary, who painted and wrote and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family, called herself an “excitment addict”. Cooking a meal that would be consumed in fifteen minutes had no appeal when she could make a painting that might last forever.


Later, when the money ran out, or the romance of the wandering life faded, the Walls retreated to the dismal West Virginia mining town-and the family- Rex Walls had done everything to escape. He drank. He stole the grocery money and disappeared for days. As the dysfunction of the family escalated, Jeannette and her brother and sisters had to fend for themselves, supporting one another as they weathered their parents’ betrayals and finally, found the resources and will to leave home.


What is so astonishing about Jeanette Walls is not just that she had the guts and tenacity and intelligence to get out, but that she describes her parents in such deep affection and generosity. Hers is such a story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.


For two decades, Jeannette Walls hid her roots. Now she tells her own story. A regular contributor to, she lives in New York and Long Island and is married to the writer John Taylor.

As a child, you’re never going to tell your parents they have problems, and that they’re ruinning your life. You love them too much, and you accepted the fact that that’s the way they want to live. Even if it hurts you. This is exactly what Jeannette Walls faces in her story, The Glass Castle. In this story you see how unconditional love and embarrassment clash together. You see the measures Jeanette and her sibilings will push to make sure they make their life’s for the better. I was really into this whole novel, the whole time I read it I didn’t want to put it down. Although, my three favorite things had to have been the characters, plot, and theme!


In this novel the characters really spoke to me. Ecspecially because it was a true story, the author went out of her way really making it to where you understood the characters personalites. The story is a first person narration, told by Jeanette herself. There were many secondary characters in this story. Those characters included: Lori, Brian, Maurenn, Rose Mary, and Rex. Basically, all of her family. To me, I seen a lot of change in the kids of the story. They went from being kids, accepting that’s the way that they lived, to young adults doing and trying to make better on their own and moving to New York. In the story,  I was very sad that Maurenn turned out the way she did, because everyone tried to help her and it seemed as though she was turning out like her parents. I don’t think Rex or Rose Mary ever really changed much. They were happy with the hard life they lived. Once Rex died though I think Jeannette seen that even though her parents caused her a lot of problems, she loved them unconditionally.


The plot of this story went throughout this whole story, there wasn’t really one certain problem. It was many problems all caused by her parents, so I would say that her parents were the conflict. It started out as a flashback of when she was three and got burnt trying to make herself hotdogs and was admitted and checked out of the hospital by her dad, Rex Wall. In the whole story, they constantly move, always moving into basically a pit hole. They move to Battle Moutain but not long after, she is ripped up from the only place she had ever felt like home. One day, her mom decides that they are going to move back to Welch, West Virginia where Rex had spent his whole life since he was seventeen trying to escape. Jeanette has nowhere else to go, until she comes up with a plan to move to New York. It works out, she gets down there with her sister Lori, and it seems like everything is going well. Until, one day she gets a call saying her parents had moved to New York. Her world starts spinning, she doesn’t know what to do, or how to tell or justify that her parents are homeless. She eventually just looses all contact with them once her sister is sent to jail, until her dad dies. At that point Jeanette realized, no matter the struggle, her parents made her the person she was. She realized what was unconditonal love.


To me, the theme is the lesson the book taught you. This book taught me many things. They went through heartache the whole time. I think both parents and kids had heartache. The parents ached because they knew they weren’t right by the way they did their kids, and hated themselves for not changing it. The childeren had heartache for the way they lived, not being able to change it, and also not being able to change their parents. I think I loved this book so much, because I could some what relate to it. This book taught me that things may not always be perfect, but sometimes you have to be strong for the weak. Jeanette and her siblings were very inspirational because I seen that no matter how hard your life may be, you’re the only person who can control your future!


Overall, I absolutely loved this novel, and hope to find more books written by Jeanette Walls. I would like to know how Maureen continued her life, and what Rose Mary did after Rex died. I recommend this book to anybody who can get your heart into a book, it will be one you don’t want to put down until the last page! I think this novel fits any young adult or older. Jeanette Walls is very inspirational and a strong woman, who can teach people that when it seems like you are at the end of your rope you must tie a knot and to never give up on your dreams and what you believe in!


2 responses

  1. It seems like you really enjoyed this book. I have never read it, but I think after reading your review that I want too. I think that the three things that you chose to talk about (plot, characters, and theme) were good choices, because those three things are what make up a good book. There were a few sentences that were a little hard to understand, I feel like it maybe because of the word choices. I have that problem too sometimes, I am way to wordy when I write and it will always make sense to me, but not others. I think that a good way to work on that is reading it outloud and listening and making sure that your sentences make sense. Also in the second paragraph you switch you use different tenses of verbs you have written seen and it should be saw, be sure to watch for that because you want to keep your verb tenses the same in your writing. The only other thing that I can say would be to read over your work after you are finished so that you can check for small spelling errors that are normally caused by typos. But, overall good job! I think I am going to try and read this book!

    1. shelbeebalentine | Reply

      I did, very much! I had never heard of the book until I picked it out to read for my memoir category. I agree with you a hundred percent on being to wordy, I feel like sometimes if I’m not for the people who haven’t read the book they would have a hard time understanding it. Next time I will make sure to have someone who hasn’t read the book to read my essay and make sure it makes complete sense! Mrs. Basiden has also pointed out spelling errors, I’ve always had trouble spelling. I will work on it though, that way my writing and vocabulary can improve. Thank you so much!
      Sincerely, Shelbee!

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