The Glass Castle - by Jeannette Walls


The Glass Castle - by Jeannette Walls

Read: 2023-05-13

Recommend: 10/10

As I finish reading this book, tears well up in my eyes. I can vividly visualize the events of the Jeannette’s life playing out on the back of my eyelids, allowing me to relive both the difficult times and the moments of victory that they experienced.


Here are some text that I highlighted in the book:

  1. I can never adequately thank my husband, John Taylor, who persuaded me it was time to tell my story and then pulled it out of me.

  2. While I was sitting there talking to Ginnie Sue, I’d even forgotten she was a whore. One thing about whoring: It put a chicken on the table.

  3. She tried to get everyone in the family to read the books. “They transport you to a different world,” she’d say.

  4. My favorite books all involved people dealing with hardships. I loved The Grapes of Wrath, Lord of the Flies, and especially A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

  5. “I got in a fight with a mountain,” he said. “and the mountain won.”

  6. I pushed the needle and felt a slight tug when it pierced the skin. I wanted to close my eyes, but I needed to see.

  7. At lunchtime, when other kids unwrapped their sandwiches or bought their hot meals, Brian and I would get out books and read. Brian told everyone he had to keep his weight down because he wanted to join the wrestling team when he got to high school. I told people that I had forgotten to bring my lunch. No one believed me, so I started hiding in the bathroom during lunch hour. I’d stay in one of the stalls with the door locked and my feet propped up so that no one would recognize my shoes.

  8. One day we got a roaring fire going, but even then we could still see our breath, and there was ice on both sides of the windows.

  9. We fought over who got to sleep with the dogs—Tinkle,

  10. That seemed to be true, because none of us kids ever got sick. But even if I’d woken up one morning with a raging fever, I never would have admitted it to Mom. Being sick might have meant staying home in our freezing house instead of spending the day in a toasty classroom.

  11. that Laundromat was so warm and cozy, we were looking for any excuse to extend our stay.

  12. 93 Little Hobart Street. I dreamed that all we had to do to fill our house with that warm, clean furnace heat was to move a lever.

  13. “No, thank you. I’ve got kites to fly and fish to fry.”

  14. “I know you took offense at what I said,” the man told me. “Thing is, I meant it as a compliment.”

  15. She could have been a famous artist by now, she yelled, if she hadn’t had children, and none of us appreciated her sacrifice.

  16. “And anyway, you know your mom. I’m an excitement addict.”

  17. “Brother, that water felt good,” she said, drawing out the word. “good” so it sounded like it had about fifteen Os in it.

  18. “‘Cause you’re white?” she asked. “Your own kind might, but we won’t. And your own kind won’t be there.”

  19. dependent children might be living in a state of neglect.

  20. I guess we both knew that, given the way people in Welch thought about mixing, it would be too weird for us to try to be close friends.

  21. The other girls talked endlessly among themselves about who still had their cherry and how far they would let their boyfriend go.

  22. But my most prominent feature—my worst—was my teeth. They weren’t rotten or crooked. In fact, they were big, healthy things. But they stuck straight out. The top row thrust forward so enthusiastically that I had trouble closing my mouth completely, and I was always stretching my upper lip to try to cover them. When I laughed, I put my hand over my mouth.

  23. I began to feel like I was getting the whole story for the first time, that I was being handed the missing pieces to the puzzle, and the world was making a little more sense.

  24. Mom could be as wise as a philosopher, but her moods were getting on my nerves. At times she’d be happy for days on end, announcing that she had decided to think only positive thoughts, because if you think positive thoughts, then positive things will happen to you. But the positive thoughts would give way to negative thoughts, and the negative thoughts seemed to swoop into her mind the way a big flock of black crows takes over the landscape, sitting thick in the trees and on the fence rails and lawns, staring at you in ominous silence. When that happened, Mom would refuse to get out of bed, even when Lucy Jo showed up to drive her to school, honking impatiently.

  25. When Mom told me I was so focused it was scary, I know she didn’t mean it as a compliment, but I took it that way.

  26. I pulled my head back. Giving him that money pissed me off. I was mad at myself but even madder at Dad.

  27. I’d heard that question at least two hundred times, and I’d always answered it the way I knew he wanted me to, because I thought it was my faith in Dad that had kept him going all those years. I was about to tell him the truth for the first time, about to let him know that he’d let us all down plenty, but then I stopped. I couldn’t do it.

  28. The more I thought about that watch, the more it called to me.

  29. Since he hadn’t paid me any commissions, I was only taking what I was owed.

  30. “If everyone who had yellow mucus stayed home, the schools would be pretty empty,” I told her.

  31. “If you want to be treated like a mother,” I said, “you should act like one.”

  32. Mom’s threat didn’t worry me. The way I saw it, Dad owed me. I’d looked after his kids all summer, I’d kept him in beer and cigarette money, and I’d helped him fleece that miner Robbie. I figured I had Dad in my back pocket.

  33. “Your mother claims you back-talked her.”

  34. The way I saw it, he was in a tighter spot than I was. He had to back down, because if he sided with Mom and gave me a whipping, he would lose me forever.

  35. Those last couple of weeks, I’d go from feeling excited to nervous to just plain scared back to excited in a matter of minutes.

  36. “I know.” I knew that in his way, he would be. I also knew I’d never be coming back.

  37. I wanted to look ahead to where I was going, not back at what I was leaving, but then I turned anyway.

  38. He never said anything, but I think he figured that, as when we were kids, we both stood a better chance if we took on the world together.

  39. Mike promised me that if I went to college, I could come back to The Phoenix anytime I wanted. But, he added, he didn’t think I would.

  40. I didn’t know what to do. Part of me wanted to do whatever I could to take care of Mom and Dad, and part of me just wanted to wash my hands of them.

  41. “Things usually work out in the end.” “What if they don’t?” “That just means you haven’t come to the end yet.”

  42. “Ain’t none of us getting out of this alive, honey,”

  43. So, when I enrolled for my final year at Barnard, I paid what I owed on my tuition with Dad’s wadded, crumpled bills.

  44. I wanted to let the world know that no one had a perfect life, that even the people who seemed to have it all had their secrets.

  45. Mom acknowledged that I’d done all right. “No one expected you to amount to much,” she told me. “Lori was the smart one, Maureen the pretty one, and Brian the brave one. You never had much going for you except that you always worked hard.”

  46. True or not, I was convinced that if all these people found out about Mom and Dad and who I really was, it would be impossible for me to keep my job. So I avoided discussing my parents. When that was impossible, I lied.

  47. But she avoided my questions, and it became clear that to Mom, holding on to land was not so much an investment strategy as it was an article of faith, a revealed truth as deeply felt and incontestable to her as Catholicism.

  48. She talked about finishing college and going to law school, but distractions kept cropping up.

  49. I just stood there looking from one distorted face to another, listening to this babble of enraged squabbling as the members of the Walls family gave vent to all their years of hurt and anger, each unloading his or her own accumulated grievances and blaming the others for allowing the most fragile one of us to break into pieces.

  50. “Your father is who he is,” Mom said. “It’s a little late in the game to try to reform him now. Humor the man.”

  51. “But you always loved your old man, didn’t you?” “I did, Dad,” I said. “And you loved me.”

  52. I felt best when I was on the move, going someplace rather than being there.

  53. And when I first showed him my scar, he said it was interesting. He used the word. “textured.” He said. “smooth” was boring but. “textured” was interesting, and the scar meant that I was stronger than whatever it was that had tried to hurt me.

  54. “Bonanza!” Brian shouted. “Feast time!” I said to him.