The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins is a Middle Grade Fiction title from Shiloh Run Press. Arlene (16) and I have both enjoyed reading this book, even though it is geared towards children ages 10-14. The story of The Glass Castle centers on Avery, a country girl who was kidnapped on her 13th Birthday and carted to a mysterious castle in the city on the hill. Shiloh Run Press is a division of Barbour Publishing, and The Glass Castle is the first book in The Thirteen Series. The second book in The Thirteen Series: The Ruby Moon is scheduled to be released on October 1, 2016.
Our review is going to include some spoilers, so if you want to be totally surprised, stop reading now and go get your copy!
Before I go any further, here is a note from Arlene:
The Glass Castle is about a young girl who on her 13th birthday is taken from her home to the nearby castle, to work with other 13 year olds. Its an interesting book filled with adventure, fun, and good reminders about the importance of family. Be prepared to get book two when it comes out (this Fall) if you like the first one. because the story ends with a very open ending. Even though the main character is 13 I would recommend the book for 11-16 year olds as even at 16 I liked it and can't wait for the next book.
The Glass Castle is a story of intrigue, politics, and daily life. When Avery is unceremoniously dumped upon the floor of the castle, she is surrounded by a large ragtag group of other children, who she later learns are also all 13 years old, who are wearing magnificent clothes, but have dirty feet and messy faces. None of them know exactly why they have been brought to the castle, but they know they cannot leave. Avery develops friendships with Kate, Tuck, and Kendrick, who work together to try to solve the mystery.
The Glass Castle includes some wonderful truths for your Middle Grade readers to absorb. Most of these are either wisdom from Avery’s new friend Kate, or memories of lessons her mother taught her when she was younger.
“Never believe the lie that we can’t be leaders. It’s a myth circulated by adults who choose not to lead. Even as kids we have everything we need to make an impact on other people.”
“There are no throwaways in God’s Kingdom.”
“Hope is the greatest gift we have.”
“You never know what burdens people are carrying,”…“Be nice to everyone.”
“Books are made for lending.”
And my favorite one…
“Silly Avery. We don’t worship to reflect on ourselves. We worship to reflect on God.”
Overall Arlene and I both enjoyed reading the book, and are looking forward to reading the sequel this Fall. However, there were a few things we think parents might want to know about before handing the book over to their 10-12 year olds. There is a budding romance between a couple of the main characters. Nothing untoward, or physical is mentioned, but you do read about the female’s thoughts on it, and her musings as to whether or not this is what love is. To both Arlene and I this seemed a bit mature for a character who has just barely turned 13 and has only known the boy for a few days. In today’s world where relationships are encouraged at too young of an age, we would have preferred the story stayed focused on friendship and not turned to romance and a secret picnic.
The Glass Castle does not give you a time frame to set the story in. You may deduce a general time in history from early in the story that does not sit well with later features of the story. There are points in the story that Arlene and I discussed that appear to be anachronisms. An anachronism is defined thusly: a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned. Originally I was thinking 1600’s from the descriptions of people, clothing, and relationships, especially a recurring reference to a “country bride” marrying at a young age (13 or 14.) However, later in the story the children discover the Castle’s library and book titles are mentioned that were published in 1726 and 1861. Arlene decided that the books listed in the castle library require it to be set in 1880 or later.
These seeming contradictions will probably go unnoticed by many of the target readers, but may stand out to older readers.
Overall, we would give The Glass Castle a grade of B. It is available as a hardback book like we received (250+ pages) or as a ePub or Kindle format.
To read more reviews of The Glass Castle, click on the banner below.