By Darya SemchukTue. 21 May. 202412min Read

Series Explained: The Glass Castle Summary

Raised in a family constantly on the move, Jeannette and her siblings navigate the challenges posed by their parents’ unorthodox lifestyle and struggle with poverty.
Series Explained: The Glass Castle Summary

"If you love The Glass Castle series but couldn’t find the time to finish it, we’ll do it for you. This captivating series by Jeannette Walls chronicles her unconventional and often turbulent childhood.

Raised in a family constantly on the move, Jeannette and her siblings navigate the challenges posed by their parents’ unorthodox lifestyle and struggles with poverty. Through poignant storytelling and vivid descriptions, Walls paints a compelling picture of resilience and survival. 

Please be warned: There are massive spoilers for the entire The Glass Castle series ahead!

Summary of 
Dish (The Glass Castle #1)

Dish book cover image


  • Book Title: Dish
  • Author: Jeannette Walls
  • Year Published: March 7, 2000
  • Goodreads Rating: 3.43/5 
  • Availability: Purchase it from Amazon

In this book Jeannette Walls chronicles tabloid journalism from the 1930's to the present. The rose colored glasses were torn from my eyes and any illusions regarding serious journalism vs tabloid shattered. The biggest shock to my nervous system was learning that my beloved "60 Minutes" is/was primarily based on smarmy standards akin to The Enquirer. Celebrity sleeze and scandal. Shock and awe.

Summary of 
The Glass Castle (The Glass Castle #2)

The Glass Castle book cover image

  • Book Title: The Glass Castle
  • Author: Jeannette Walls
  • Year Published: March 2005 
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.32/5 
  • Availability: Purchase it from Amazon

The Glass Castle is Jeannette Walls' memoir, chronicling her life from childhood to adulthood and how her parents both influenced and restricted her. The book is divided into five parts. The first part, "A Woman on the Street," recounts her discussion with her mother, Rose Mary, who was squatting in an abandoned apartment in New York City. This conversation prompted her to share her truth and write the memoir.

In Part Two, titled "The Desert", the book covers young Jeannette Walls living with her parents, Rex and Rose Mary, and her siblings Lori and Brian. The book opens with Jeannette's first memory, which takes place when she is three years old and living in a trailer park in southern Arizona. She is engulfed in flames while attempting to make hot dogs over the stove, resulting in her going to the hospital and receiving skin grafts on her stomach, ribs, and chest. Due to fear of the mounting medical bills as well as skepticism of modern medicine, Rex takes Jeannette out of the hospital without permission or paying.

A few months later, the children are woken up in the middle of the night and told they are "doing the skedaddle" (skipping town). Their parents' nomadic lifestyle, imposed by their avoidance of financial responsibilities, results in the family frequently moving to locations in various states including Nevada, Arizona, and California. As Jeannette grows older, she becomes more aware of Rex's alcoholism and its consequences. For her 10th birthday, she asks him to stop drinking, which he successfully does for a few months. Following his relapse, Rose Mary decides that since they have no money, it is time to move again, and she takes the family to their paternal grandparents in Welch, West Virginia.

In Part Three, titled "Welch," the book covers a span of about seven years and shows how Jeannette and her siblings' views of their parents shift from seeing them as adventurous and whimsical to recognizing their abusive and broken behavior. While living in Welch, the Walls children experience bullying, sexual abuse, and hunger. Eventually, Lori and Jeannette come up with a plan for Lori to move to New York City, with Jeannette following shortly thereafter. Lori makes the move, and Jeannette joins her just before finishing high school.

How Did 
The Glass Castle End?

In Part Four, "New York City," after experiencing the freedom and safety gained from no longer living with her parents, sister Lori offers to help siblings Brian and Maureen move to New York City. Three years after all the children have left Welch, Rose Mary and Rex decide to move to New York City. With little money, the parents fall behind on rent and become homeless. They find themselves at home amongst squatters in an abandoned apartment, and the Walls children discover who they are. Years later, Rex calls Jeannette and tells her that he is dying. A few weeks after they had met and talked about their adventures and struggles, he dies of a heart attack.

Part Five, titled "Thanksgiving," takes place five years after the death of Rex when the family gathers for Thanksgiving at Jeannette's country home where they toast to Rex.

Summary of 
Half Broke Horses (The Glass Castle #3)

Half Broke Horses book cover image

  • Book Title: Half Broke Horses
  • Author: Jeannette Walls
  • Year Published: 2009
  • Goodreads Rating: 4.08/5 
  • Availability: Purchase it from Amazon

After dreaming about Grover being hunted by a monster, Percy wakes up on the last day of his seventh year, a quiet year at Meriwether Academy Prep. He met Tyson, a homeless kid the school took in as a charity. In gym class, Percy was attacked by Lestrigons while playing dodgeball but was saved by Tyson and Annabeth, who returned to Camp Half-Blood after having a dream that Camp Half-Blood was in danger. The trio travels to Long Island in a magical taxi driven by the Gray family. At camp, they see campers led by Clarisse LaRue fighting the Colchis bull. Tyson was allowed to cross the camp boundary to rescue Percy again. Tyson is a baby Cyclops and Percy's half-brother, as he is also the son of Poseidon. Someone poisoned the demigod Thalia's tree, weakening Camp Half-Blood's protective walls and leaving the campers vulnerable to attacks from future monsters.

Camp counselor Chiron is accused of poisoning a tree and fired. Before leaving, Chiron realizes that only the Golden Fleece can save the camp. During the chariot race, the Stymphalian birds attack. Still, Percy and Annabeth distract them with Chiron's boombox and Dean Martin's version of "Volare" so that Apollo Campers can shoot them down.

Percy and his friends reach the island of Percy's half-brother, the cyclops Polyphemus, who has captured Clarisse. Grover and Tyson join them, and they find the Golden Fleece. Polyphemus destroys Queen Anne's Revenge, and the group escapes on Rainbow. In Miami, Percy realizes that Clarisse must fly back to camp alone. They are captured by Luke and taken aboard the Princess Andromeda. Percy contacts Camp Half-Blood through the goddess Iris, tricking Luke into confessing and exonerating Chiron, who is reinstated. Luke battles Percy, but Chiron and other centaurs arrive to rescue them. Chiron explains that he is mistrusted because Kronos is his father.

How Did
The Glass Castle End?

The Golden Fleece is hung on Thalia's pine tree, which is cured. Grover is given leave on his quest to find the god Pan, clearing the obstacle of Polyphemus luring in searchers through the Golden Fleece. The camp holds a second chariot race, which Percy and Annabeth win with the help of Tyson, who departs after accepting an offer from Poseidon to work in the god's underwater Cyclops forges. However, the Fleece's magic is too strong, and it resurrects Thalia, providing another possible demigod for the Great Prophecy, which Percy realizes was Kronos' intention all along.

Summary of 
The Silver Star (The Glass Castle #4)

The Silver Star book cover image

  • Book Title: The Silver Star
  • Author: Jeannette Walls
  • Year Published: June 2013
  • Goodreads Rating: 3.75/5 
  • Availability: Purchase it from Amazon

Knowing of Walls’ amazing personal story, The Silver Star reads for me more like an embellished biographical account than fiction.
All the elements are there from her own life: manic parents, poverty, close-knit siblings who watch one another’s backs, late night moves from one situation to the next that only differ in location and finally the will to follow one’s dreams and break from the road to destruction the family had laid for Walls and her siblings.

Bean and Liz knew their mother was a dreamer who lived in her own manufactured world. It’s the Vietnam Era where anything seemed possible to their mother who spun her own dreams of glass castles. Her talent simply lay in wait for discovery. Her plan was that she would help discovery along by disappearing for days or weeks to try for her place in the L.A sun as a singer, a backup singer, a musical goddess or whatever came her way. The girls would be left with enough money to take care of necessities, pot pies in the freezer and school to attend. Mom always returned until she didn’t.
Bean’s twelve going on twenty and Jean’s fifteen with maturity below her chronological age.

When their mom’s been gone for a very long time, the pot pies are nearly gone and money’s running low, the girls come down the street after school one day only to spy a police car at their house. Bean knows what’s up. Someone’s on to the truth of their living situation and an officer’s there to take them somewhere safe. Bean’s not having any part of this nonsense. The sisters hide and wait for the officer to leave. 
They know he’ll be back. It’s only a matter of time before they’re in custody.

Bean knows they have an uncle in Byler, VA. Their mother’s spoken of her brother with whom she’s estranged from. Bean knows he lives in an old antebellum mansion, a family inheritance. It’s the only hope she sees for she and Liz. They return to the house, gather the small amount of money they have, some of their clothing and head for the closest bus station. They’re on their way to Virginia where truth and hope await them.

The uncle who at first seems curmudgeonly opens his home, arms and heart to his nieces. What is his, he gladly shares with the girls. But, it’s not all easy and smooth in Byler. There’s a dark side to the life Bean and Liz traversed the country to find. The mill where residents of Byler work, which they depend on for survival, has a foreman who cares little about right or wrong. He’s a sociopathic personality whose only concern is what he desires and the hell with everyone else. The plot thickens when Liz accepts a job as a babysitter for his kids.

The family's antebellum mansion gives Bean and Liz a sense of pride in family, themselves and newly found stability. Life is good for the girls regardless of Liz’s employer.  Liz acquires emus that she cares for with the same protective force and love she lavished on her baby sister. They become a symbol for Liz herself. The emus Bean thinks want to fly they just don’t have wings, something like Liz herself. Liz readies herself for a metaphorical flight, freedom and self respect as she protects and loves the emus. She therefore learns to protect and love herself as well.

How Did The Silver Star End?

Bean discovers the identity of her father in Byler, meets his family and learns of her father’s gallantry. He earned a Silver Star in Korea which only goes to those who have shown the greatest of heroism and selflessness while in action against an enemy of the United States.

The Silver Star awarded to her father becomes a symbol for Bean herself. She stands firm in her own gallantry against those who are stronger and without scruples. She rises against all odds to make her way to family, to find love and to hold herself firm against what many would find overwhelming.

Summary of 
Hang the Moon (The Glass Castle #5)

Hang the Moon book cover image


  • Book Title: Hang the Moon 
  • Author: Jeannette Walls
  • Year Published: March 28, 2023 
  • Goodreads Rating: 3.82/5 
  • Availability: Purchase it from Amazon

Most folk thought Sallie Kincaid was a nobody who'd amount to nothing. Sallie had other plans.

Sallie Kincaid is the daughter of the biggest man in a small town, the charismatic Duke Kincaid. Born at the turn of the 20th century into a life of comfort and privilege, Sallie remembers little about her mother who died in a violent argument with the Duke. By the time she is just eight years old, the Duke has remarried and had a son, Eddie. While Sallie is her father's daughter, sharp-witted and resourceful, Eddie is his mother's son, timid and cerebral. When Sallie tries to teach young Eddie to be more like their father, her daredevil coaching leads to an accident, and Sallie is cast out.

Nine years later, she returns, determined to reclaim her place in the family. That's a lot more complicated than Sallie expected, and she enters a world of conflict and lawlessness. Sallie confronts the secrets and scandals that hide in the shadows of the Big House, navigates the factions in the family and town, and finally comes into her own as a bold, sometimes reckless bootlegger.

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