The Last Book I Loved: The Glass Castle


glasscastle2The problem with reading a modern memoir is that often they suck. The influx of reality shows and confessional writing (ahem, Tori Spelling) has placed an emphasis on story and less on literary craft. This is why when I read a good memoir like The Glass Castle, I’m almost taken aback by the experience. Walls not only has a strong story to tell, but she tells it masterfully in short, concise chapters that evoke complicated emotions on idealism and responsibility. Her story, about climbing out of extreme poverty, is unique because there are no “bad guys.” Her parents are the root of her families inability to support themselves, and yet, they are rendered sympathetically. Her mother, a trained teacher, and her father, a skilled engineer, make their fair share of poor decisions, which leads to Walls and her siblings having to eat out of garbage cans at school. But her parents are also supportive and Walls yearns for their acceptance. The best part about reading a memoir like this is thinking, “I can’t believe that this actually happened.” There is something to be said about inspiring stories captured from real life that make a reading experience more fun.

Chellis Ying has been published in LA Times, True Tales of Love and Lust, Best Travel Writing, Mental Floss, Publisher’s Weekly and was the runner up for the Our Stories’ 2010 Richard Bausch Short Story Contest. She received her MFA in Writing at the University of San Francisco and a BA in Literature at Kenyon College. She currently lives in San Luis Obispo, California where she is a yoga and college writing instructor. Visit for more. More from this author →