Anyone else read The Glass Castle and hate it?

Anyone else read The Glass Castle and hate it? I really don’t like this book but have heard so many good things about it so I’m wondering if it’s just me lol. I’ve been having trouble finding something I like lately.

Reading it for book club but I might just quit halfway through 🙁

134 Answers

  • I struggled through it. I ended up finishing but definitely not one of my favorites.

  • I didn’t hate it but was bothered that the horrible living situation was treated in a cavalier sort of way.

    • I didn’t believe that they really lived in some of those conditions. I felt that the writer “embellished ” on some of those experiences.

  • Loved this book and all of Jeannette Walls, but you have to be able to stomach her difficult recollections of a rough childhood

    • I don’t think “like” is the right word for her books, especially The Glass Castle. She writes beautifully about a terrible topic. I’d say I appreciated her story telling, but it sure was not a fun read.

  • I loved it, and it also made me angry. I wanted to shake those parents until their pea brains rattle inside the empty gourds they called heads. It was not easy to read, and in a few instances it reminded me of some minor stuff my own parents did that was not cool.

  • Glass Castle is on for my November book club. I have mixed feelings and haven’t even started it.

  • I am currently reading The Glass Castle and enjoying it. Though at times, I feel upset at the way the kids were treated and the sheer irresponsibility of their parents.

  • I tried to read it several times and then just gave up….some books just aren’t my cup of tea:)

  • I didn’t care for it at all. I was the only in my book club who didn’t love it.

  • You don’t have to like it. One of the reasons we join book clubs is to be exposed to things we might not like, but can appreciate in another way. Maybe the discussion will help.

    • Completely agree with you, I’ve slogged through a handful of book club selections but conversely also read books I might not have otherwise – all making for lively and informative discussion! Sometimes I come away with a new perspective on the book (not always tho!)

  • Im definitely hating the parents but that’s not even my main issue. I’m fine with the hard to take subject matter also. I just feel like it’s going on and on which, I guess, is because it’s a memoir not a novel, so I get that. I guess I’m just waiting for a story arc that isn’t coming. It’s just one horrifyingly sad story after another.
    I’m interested to see what the others at my book club think. It will definitely foster some lively discussion lol

  • I liked it and so did our book club. We had a great discussion about life and people and so on. One cannot really critique a memoir. It is a memoir, after all, more like reportage. It was their life. Then we went to see the movie to compare.

    • Yes, memoirs are not my favorite book for that reason, among others.

  • I didn’t care for it either. In my head I just kept comparing it to Angela’s Ashes…and I know it’s terrible to compare their struggles.

  • The topic was interesting, very relatable. I just found the writing really weak.

  • This wasn’t my favorite book, but I didn’t hate it.

  • It was a sad story and not easy to read. I liked it though.

  • I hated it and didn’t believe that Hollywood ending for a minute.

  • I didn’t hate it, but it was boring to me. Took me forever to get through.

  • It held my attention. As a teacher I know many children who are living in situations like this. My heart breaks for them. I’m amazed at not just how they function in dysfunction but how ” normal” some things are to them. I appreciated Jeanette Walls tone in the book. It wasn’t whining or blaming. She didn’t play the victim of mentally ill parents . She loved them. It was just telling it like it was. I think it would be hard to tell a life story like that and be humble about her accomplishments. I thought she did that very well. I thought it was inspiring.

    • completely agree – in fact The Glass Castle is now in our curriculum non-fiction. The incredible resilience of the kids together and individually is inspirational and uplifting – especially in a world of entitlement and victims. My students are always amazed and engaged when reading this book a direct quote ” I’m amazed that a teacher assigned this book and I can’t put it down.” Also – how lucky for her to come to terms with her parents when so many of us are unable to.

  • I also found it inspiring. To me it is a good example of the resiliency of children/people. To think the children (at least three of the four) made it through their heartbreaking childhood and went on to be successful adults. I thought the movie had more emphasis on her love for and forgiveness of her parents, which I did not care for. I preferred the book.

  • I was basically angry at the parents the whole time. I don’t like to be angry when I read.

  • I rolled my eyes through the whole thing because I found so much of it unbelievable. I read another of her books for book group, Half-broke Horses and realized that I simply don’t like Walls’ writing.

    • I too found it very hard to believe. I got through more than half of the book, but eventually put it down.

  • Have to stand up for Jeanette Walls here. Have been mesmerised and drawn in by The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses. About to put a library hold for her third book, Silver Star (a novel).

  • I’m one of the ones who loved it. My brother also read it. We discussed the similarity of our childhood to Walls’ childhood. Doubt she falsified any of it and contrary to another opinion it was written without self-pity as far as I could see. I understand why this book may not be your cup of tea however, as I have aversions to other books people love!

  • It is just you. Subjective theory of value. Quit the book and quit the book club.

    • I have been in a number of book clubs over many years and not a single one has ‘sucked’. You may be a person who does not enjoy real life book discussion amongst a group of thoughtful, respectful adults, but that probably says more about you than that book clubs ‘suck in general’. Of course I have enjoyed some books and discussions more than others, but I enjoy hearing other people’s respectful and honest responses to a book whether in person or in writing.

    • I think you could quit the book but you don’t have to quit the book club if you don’t want. In mine, we often, usually, have at least one member who hates a book with a passion. We are a diverse bunch and it makes it interesting. Also makes me read stuff I would never read on my own and I like that.

    • Yes, you are moving towards a subjective theory of value explanation. I have unusual reading patterns and tastes, so they don’t align with that. Respectful and honest are wide brush concepts, also with varying definitions, and easily become contradictions between various people. I enjoy the spontaneous and serendipitous discussion. Most of my interactions with humans also involve discussions of books. For instance, I would like to discuss the books involved in the history of the subjective theory of value and several books on epistemology about forming abstract concepts like suck.

    • With your want qualifiers and use of the personal pronoun you are one who already understands, I assume.

    • No mansplaining needed, but thank you! Or should I say ‘mensa’-splaining….🙄🙄

    • I like the attempts at gender insulting comments and creating in-group out-group division through slightly stalkerish activity.

  • There have been several threads about this book and I’ve commented before that I did not like it. I must confess that I honestly didn’t realize it was a memoir until I was almost finished with it. Consequently, I kept thinking to myself that the writer did not write realistically. My biggest issue was that she assigned thoughts and observations that were, in my opinion, beyond the age of the “character”. Knowing now that it is a memoir, my thinking is that her memory is faulty. I don’t doubt that things happened as she said they did, but I think she applied her hindsight as an adult to her childhood experiences, and this is what made it unbelievable to me.

    • Did you see the movie? I was very curious as to how it all played out on the silver screen but it came and went before I had a chance to see it! It’s been years since I read both that and Half Broke Horses – I may need to revisit!

    • I didn’t. Seems like movies come and go too fast for me to catch them! I have neither seen nor read HBH either.

    • Children in families like that grow up very quickly–mainly to protect themselves physically. Their psyches undergo quite radical and often unusual, sensitivity to threat as well. If you read about children in India or other third world countries you will find children who are supporting families and behaving as adults.

    • You will find that happening in more developed countries as well. In the USA the child must often become the adult for a number of reasons.

    • Another book about an unusual childhood is Catherine Gildiner’s “Too Close to the Falls.” Much more benign I think, but still a child’s response to her world. I’m sure as an adult writing in memoir style there is difficulty keeping one’s present views from distorting the child view. I really liked this book too.

    • For all the people who are ready to think this did not happen, have you read Bastard out of Carolina. Another harrowing, but, at least to me, satisfying read.

    • Thank you, , I read that book several years ago and I have been trying to remember the title. I love our group of readers.

    • Yes I understand that and don’t doubt the events happened, I just question her memory of them. I made another comment below about how she lost me at the start describing her earliest memory at age 3. I think the experience could be real but I am skeptical about remembering it in that great of detail, so that affected my response to the rest of the book.

  • Our book group has a hundred page rule – if you can’t stand it still you are “allowed” to quit. That being said, often books seem to improve upon discussion. 😀

  • Loved the book and, the movie is even more raw and shocking! Woody Harrelson is amazing as the father.

    • I’m going to try and find the movie now. Wonder if I can watch it?

  • I just finished it and liked it … it’s hard to “love” a book that’s so maddening :/. But I don’t quite understand how/why people are calling it unbelievable. I mean, it is unbelievable in the sense that it’s hard to believe that the children survived and that the parents were so nuts, but I certainly don’t believe that it was fabricated.

    • I’m one who finds it unbelievable and she lost me at the very start when she described how she got burned cooking hot dogs at the age of 3. I do not doubt for a minute that she was cooking hot dogs or that the events happened. My son at age 4 got up one morning before me and was standing in a chair frying bologna in an iron skillet on a gas stove. But he doesn’t remember it, just the story since he’s heard it so often. Walls tells this story as her earliest memory, and that is what I find unbelievable. It is way too detailed, especially for memories of events that happened at age 3. I read the whole book, but with a large measure of skepticism.

    • Yes, I can see your point. I can barely remember what I did yesterday, much less when I was three! 😏

  • I got pissed when they got rid of the cat and the way it was done.

  • So far, I think this book has generated more posts than any I’ve followed so far–that’s what a good book club does. This is the best!

  • I’m reading it now. It’s a fast read and it does remind me of Angela’s Ashes. I don’t judge the circumstances because there are so many of us on this planet and I do not expect everyone to behave the way I do. I believe that what she describes did happen since I’ve seen kids live in similar situations.

  • I used to believe that a person should finish what they start. I no longer apply this to books. If you get to the point where you are reading only to finish, give the book to someone you don’t like.😏

  • I tried to read it too but didn’t finish it. I thought it was very repetitious. Same story just different place.

  • I really liked it. Having had some experience with dysfunctional family members I could relate to her story.

  • I’ve read it 3 times, the first on my own and it really hit home for me, literally, and then 2x for 2 different book clubs. We had quite the discussion about it, especially about the parental neglect. Yes, I agree, children are resilient but that doesn’t mean that they should be treated liked adults or made to be dealt with adult issues before their time.

  • I read it quite a while ago and liked it. A friend said she could not bear it because of all the pain experience by the upheavals of the family, but I found thee flawed characters intriguing. One detail I particularly remember liking is the Christmas gifts the father gave to the children by letting them choose a star of their own.

  • This doesn’t happen often, but my book club actually voted to NOT read it! Haha !

  • I loved it, but was so annoyed through the whole book screaming get it together!!!! What is wrong with you!!!!!

    • Yes! I actually threw the book across the room last night 😂😂

  • I, too, found it very disturbing. Funny how I read it only because I thought the movie looked interesting. No way would I see that movie after reading the book. The mom hiding chocolate did me in……

  • Well it is a disturbing book for sure since it details the sort of sad sordid life we’d prefer not to think about.

  • I read it and found it fascinating, and was disappointed that the movie didn’t stick to the book.

    • I was wondering if that would happen. Maybe they had to make it more palatable for the masses? Or did they change it altogether? I’m only half way through so I’m not sure what they would change other than not telling so many of the horrible stories of her childhood.

    • The movie sort of mixed together experiences in her childhood all at one time I guess to save time. They also went more into her adult life than the book does.

  • I thought it was a good read, but I spent the whole book being really angry with the parents.

    • I hated Angela’s Ashes when I read it years ago. Now I’m older maybe my tolerance for depressing reading is higher.

    • Oh no. That doesn’t bode well for me reading Glass Castle then. I abhorred Angela’s Ashes.

    • I tried to read it twice and could not get through Angela’s Ashes.

  • I thought it was excellent. I also thought it was infuriating and sad. Like , I spent a great deal of the book being very angry with the parents.

  • I didn’t think it was believable. How did she remember conversations from when she was three years old?

  • I didn’t hate it but found the way these kids had to grow up deplorable and almost unbelievable. 🙁

    • You are definitely in the wrong group for your interests! Haha! Your post definitely made me smile!

  • I’m in a local book club and we review very good books mostly. Maybe once a year I don’t like the book and then I don’t read it or I start it but don’t finish it. Our latest read was The Children’s Act, pretty good and our next book is News of the World which is very good.

  • yup… hated it… wanted to slap those parents (and I use the word loosely)

  • I thought it was a great book. I found it fascinating and well-written. I was amazed and inspired by how the author created a wonderful life for herself despite/because of her upbringing. It’s up high on my list of “greats”!
    It’s a good thing there are so many styles of writing and stories to tell in this word-something for everyone!

  • It was a very hard read, the parents were something else, but I truly loved it

  • Yea, I didn’t enjoy it, but I finished it 1. Because I feel the need to finish books and 2. It was a book club read. 😁

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