by Jeannette Walls
"The Glass Castle is a
remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption,
and a revelatory look into a family at once
deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When
sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic
father captured his children's imagination,
teaching them physics, geology, and how to
embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he
was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a
free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity
and didn't want the responsibility of raising a
The Walls children
learned to take care of themselves. They fed,
clothed, and protected
one another, and eventually
found their way to New York. Their parents
followed them, choosing to be homeless even as
their children prospered.
The Glass Castle is
truly astonishing -- a memoir permeated by the
intense love of a peculiar but loyal family."
There are themes within this year's New Student Reader that include alcoholism, sexual content, and poverty conditions. When the reader reviews these and other content areas, he/she may experience reactions during or following the reading.
There will be structured discussions following convocation relative to the New Student Reader. All disclosures within these discussions are voluntary. Students are encouraged to participate according to his/her comfort level. Additional resources, including Student Counseling Services are available to students who may experience difficulty. Counselors may be reached at 410-543-6070 or by http://www.salisbury.edu/counseling/. Their office is located on the second floor of the Guerrieri University Center, room 263. Counseling staff will be available during New Student Reader discussions.
- Why does Walls start the book with the
incident of the hot dogs? Consider this question
when you begin reading, and then go back and
consider it again after you have finished the
book. What is she left with after this incident?
How does this affect the rest of her life?
- Pay attention to the various settings of the
book: Where do the Walls live? Who decides? How
does each new location affect the quality of
- What philosophy seems to guide the family?
Does this philosophy change over time? Are you,
as a reader, as seduced by the parents’
philosophies as the children are?
- Jeannette Walls obviously “turned out OK.”
To what extent do you think she owes her current
life to her upbringing? Is it possible that her
upbringing is exactly what she needed?
- Consider the metaphor of a glass castle and
what it signifies to Jeannette and her father.
Why is it important that, just before leaving
for New York, Jeannette tells her father that
she doesn’t believe he’ll ever build it? Why do
you think she says, “But we sure had fun
planning it” at the end of the book? What might
this suggest about their relationship?
Click here for a printable version (PDF format)
Enter the Essay and Art Contest
Attention incoming students to Salisbury
University! Here’s your chance to win a $300
gift certificate to the Salisbury University
Book Store. You can use the gift certificate for
anything the book store sells, including those
expensive textbooks you’ll have to buy. All you
have to do is submit the winning essay or the
winning art project related to the New Student
Reader, The Glass Castle.