"The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls has been selected for the 2008 Summer Reading Program at Appalachian State University, announced Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock.
In her memoir, Walls weaves an almost unbelievable account of her mother and father's unorthodox approach to parenting, the family's unconditional love for one another, and Walls's and her siblings' ability to prosper in spite of the obstacles, including homelessness and alcoholism, they faced growing up.
"This is a fascinating account of a person's ability to succeed against the odds," Peacock said. "Ms. Walls shares the bad and the good from her childhood and how her will and determination helped her succeed academically, professionally, personally and with grace. Her story holds many lessons for us all."
The book was recommended by the university's Summer Reading Committee, which is comprised of students, faculty and staff, because of the variety of angles from which Walls's story can be approached.
"Our student readers praised the book's unflinching look at growing up in a 'difficult' situation: the children in this family must tough decisions about their well-being and futures," said English professor Emory Maiden, who directs the selections process.
"As with us all, decisions made under duress engender unforeseen consequences, which add suspense to dramatic narrative circumstances. We believe reading 'The Glass Castle' will encourage first-year students, as well as others, to reexamine their notions of what it means to make choices about one's present circumstances in the pursuit of personal efficacy and, perhaps, happiness in the future," Maiden said.
Walls will be the guest speaker at the university's convocation on Sept. 4, 2008. In addition, she will participate in a panel discussion while on campus and participate in a reading and book signing as part of the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series.
Walls has been a columnist for New York magazine and MSNBC, and has written for USA Today and Esquire. Her book has been a New York Times best-seller for more than 75 weeks, has sold more than 1.5 million copies, been translated into 16 languages, and is being made into a movie by Paramount.
"The Glass Castle" has received the Christopher Award, the American Library Association's Alex Award and the Books for Better Living Award.