Jeanette is born the second of 4 children to Mary Rose and Rex walls. Lori, Mary Charlene ( Died of crib death at 9 months), Jeanette, Brian, Maureen
March- May 1965
At the age of 3, Jeanette is expected to cook for herself. While making hot dogs, she remembers a brown burn mark appearing on her favorite pink dress and smelling her burning flesh. She spends 6 weeks in the hospital , loving every second of it. The staff thought she might have been abused. The theme of fire follows her throughout life. Rex kidnaps her and escapes out the back door, so as not to pay the large hospital bill.
Rex was known for coming home in the middle of the night, and declaring it was time to "skeddadle". He playfully tries to make an adventure while they are running from bill collectors. Jeanette has fond family memories like sleeping under the stars. She remembers her Dad throwing her cat out the window on a skedaddle mission. Once while leaving Las Vegas, she fell out of the Blue Goose and believed they were not coming back for since they left the cat..
The Walls family never really stays anywhere very long. The children are home-schooled and have nice memories of reading as a family . Once while staying in a low budget hotel in shady area of San Francisco the hotel ketches fire. Brian and Jeanette had been playing with matches. and fueling her fire obcession earlier that day. Rex left the children at a bar and went back to fight the fire.
April 21, 1970
After the fire, they spent a week in the car on the beach. They then settled in Blythe, California. Jeanette was bullied for being a teachers pet, but children enjoyed going to school. Food is scarce and Rex is expelled from the electrical union, again. Maureen is born in Blythe. The siblings stick together and always help one another. The family then heads by way of U-Haul to Battle Mountain. Safety and caution are sacrificed for space and the 4 children ride in the back of the u_Haul and almost fall out.
The walls family lived in a train depot in Battle Mountain. Refrigerator boxes were used for beds and giant wooded spools were used for tables and chairs. There was no heat, usually no electricity and rarely running water, but initially the family loved it. Stray animals slept with the kids to keep them warm. Kids went to school. Mary Rose did her art work and Rex worked on his gold finding device., when he wasn't drunk. They even had a piano in the backyard , which was suppose to go inside, but didn't quite make it there. Once again, Jeanette was almost burned by a combustion fire that she and Brian caused.
The family is literally starving. Mary's mother dies and they go back to Emerson, near Phoenix, to live in her house. Rex bought the kids bicycles and food is plentiful for a while. Without investing in the upkeep of the house it becomes infested with rats, termites and roaches. Vagrants even climb through the windows and trie to molest Jeanette.
Jeanette's view of her fathers true self is beginning to reveal itself as his drinking is exaggerated and she becomes aware he is not capable of following through on any of his promises. She knows there will never be a glass castle. Her 10th birthday wish is for Rex to stop drinking. He tries to oblige, but he just can't do it.
Sept 1976- January 1977
The beginning scene of the book
As the walls clan grows older life becomes less of an adventure and more of a struggle. Once again they are penniless and starving. With no where else to go, they head to the fathers homestead of Welch West Virginia. Rex's grandmother tries to molest Brian and banished the everyone to drab and cold basement. The town is almost as cruel to them as the Grandmother. In the end, Erma's house was also victim of a fire.
Jeanette is in the 7th grade in High School. She has found her niche and love of Journalism from being involved on the school newspaper. Learning of New York , Lori and Jeanette began saving to escape and live out their lives in the city. Rex steals money from their piggy bank for his bad habits but this wont stop the success of the girls. Lori leaves first and Jeanette follows, finishing out her last year of high school in NYC.
The entire family migrates to NYC. Jeanette works as an intern at a prestigious newspaper and graduates from Barnard College, a subsidiary of Columbia University. She marries and lives on Park Avenue. Brian marries and works as a police officer. Maureen, Mary Rose and Rex live as drifters out a van until Maureen stabs Mary Rose. Jeanette divorces and remarries. She is presently one of the most well respect gossip columnist in the country .
The novel begins with Jeanette seeing her mother digging in a dumpster looking for food. Distressed, Jeanette arranges lunch with her mother, partially out of fear she will destroy her career. Mary Rose proclaims, I am who I want to be. Don't make excuses for me. I like my life. It was at that point that Ms. Walls thought about publishing her own remarkable story, rather than running from the truth.