Is The Glass Castle a True Story? Yes! It’s a Memoir

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Is The Glass Castle a true story? What is the book about, and how does the author talk about her life and childhood?

Many readers have asked, “Is The Glass Castle a true story?” The answer is yes—the book is a memoir of Jeannette Walls, who recounts her childhood and early adulthood.

Read more about the question “is The Glass Castle a true story?” and Jeannette Walls’ life.

Is The Glass Castle a True Story? Here’s What Happened

The Glass Castle is the harrowing tale of Jeannette Wall’s life growing up in poverty with wayward parents. Following the Walls family through the desert to the coal-mining region of West Virginia to the fast-paced life of New York City, this memoir explores the nature of family, loyalty, and tragedy and what it takes to survive together and apart

Writing The Glass Castle

Jeannette Walls saw the unmistakable image of her mother digging through trash one March night. Wind whipped down the streets of New York City. It had been months since Jeannette had seen her mother. She was in a taxi dressed up for a fancy party, and her mother, Rose Mary, stood fifteen feet away. 

Rose Mary’s hair was worn, mussed, and gray, and she was thin with sunken features. For a second, Jeannette remembered other images of her mother—swan diving off cliffs, painting landscapes, reading Shakespeare to Jeannette and her siblings. 

When Rose Mary glanced up, Jeannette ducked below the window. She didn’t want to be recognized and possibly outed as this homeless woman’s child. She was only blocks away from her party. Any of the other guests might see her and uncover the truth of who she was. 

Jeannette asked the driver to take her home, instead of to the party. Inside her Park Avenue apartment, she took in the lavish furnishings. She’d created a space that would suit the kind of woman she wanted to be. But thoughts of her parents suffering on the streets were never far off. The shame of her luxuries and being embarrassed in the taxi weighed on her. 

Jeannette and Rose Mary met for lunch a few days later, and the conversation was as random and ludicrous as ever. Her mother had cleaned up a bit, wearing a sweater with fewer stains and men’s shoes. Rose Mary launched into a discussion about the Picasso retrospective she’d seen. She didn’t think much of Picasso. 

Jeannette tried to offer her parents assistance, but Rose Mary pushed the idea away. They didn’t need Jeannette’s money. Rose Mary said if Jeannette wanted to help her, she could buy her an electrolysis treatment because looking good raises your spirits. 

But is The Glass Castle a true story? Yes! It is a memoir about Jeannette Walls early life and her family.

Is The Glass Castle a True Story? Yes! It’s a Memoir

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Jeannette Walls's "The Glass Castle" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full The Glass Castle summary:

  • The author's unbelievable childhood as her absent parents went on alcoholic binges
  • How Jeannette and her siblings escaped their parents to strike out on their own
  • The complicated relationship Jeannette had with her parents before they died

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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