Author Jeannette Walls Shares Life Lessons at Meredith

Best-selling author Jeannette Walls shared life lessons she’s learned since the publication of her memoir "The Glass Castle" during her August 27, 2012, visit to Meredith College.

"Telling the story of my childhood has changed my life," Walls said. "One of the lessons I’ve learned is that everything in life is a blessing and a curse – it’s up to you to choose which to focus on. The blessing of my childhood is that I grew up as a fighter and a scrapper. The curse of my childhood is that I grew up as a fighter and a scrapper."

Walls, whose book was chosen as Meredith’s 2012 Summer Reading Program book, spoke at an informal afternoon Q&A and presented an evening lecture to overflow crowds. During both events, she mentioned how pleased she is that students are reading her book.

"My secret bold ambition for my book was that students would read it," Walls said. She said she hoped that students might be inspired by her story, and be nicer to those who are different.

"What you see in my story is a reflection of your story," Walls said. "I hope when you leave here you are thinking about your story, not mine."

In "The Glass Castle," Walls describes growing up in the desert of the American Southwest and then in a West Virginia mining town with her three siblings and the brilliant, unorthodox, irresponsible parents who manage at once to neglect them, love them and teach them to face their fears.

Walls discussed the process of writing her memoir, and the challenge of depicting her parents, who she described as "people with wonderful qualities but who were certainly not saints."

Writing the first draft of her book took only six weeks, Walls said, but the rewriting process took five years, as she chose the parts of her life story to include.

"Even though ‘The Glass Castle’ is non-fiction, we shape our truths … I included scenes that were important in shaping the person I became."

Walls’ memoir has been a New York Times best-seller for more than four years, has sold 3.5 million copies in the U.S. alone, been translated into 22 languages, and is being made into a movie by Paramount. It was named one of the “Top 10 Books of the Decade” by Amazon, and has won numerous awards.

Meredith’s Summer Reading Program is now in its fourteenth year.

Learn more about Meredith's Summer Reading Program

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