Before being offered a chance to review The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins by Shiloh Run Press, I'd never heard of the book nor the vendor. Now, both are on my "to watch for" list, because my children so enjoyed the book and want us to read its sequel!
A Quick Overview of The Glass Castle
The Glass Castle is a 251-page hardcover book with 41 relatively short chapters that often end with cliff hangers that keeps children (or at least my children!) begging for more.
In my oldest child's words:
This book is about a girl named Avery who is captured and brought to a castle. She is 13. A the castle, many 13 year olds are captive. At first, no one seems to know why. Avery tries to figure out why and how to escape to find her father and save her brother. She also wants to save other kids.
I will add that one of the other girls in the castle, Kate, quickly befriends Avery, as does a boy named Tuck (who also becomes the center of light romantic attention from Avery and another girl in the castle.) Together, Kate, Tuck, Avery, and another boy named Kendrick,work towards helping their fellow captive 13 year olds live a good life despite their captivity in the castle while Avery begins to piece together the many mysteries of the castle as she works to unravel secrets that may lead to freedom for herself and others.
Interwoven in the action and dialogue of the book is mention of prayer and Bible verses. There are also clear examples of virtue and vice among the characters. None of this, in my opinion, becomes preachy or awkward. Rather, the character's journeys with morality and faith simply become a part of the story -- a part I appreciate.
Our Experience with The Glass Castle
My children and I all found The Glass Castle appealing. We read it aloud together, and after an initial bump of fear from one of my children, all of my children took well to the book, often requesting that I read two to four chapters of it (or more!) in a single sitting.
Better still, on some nights when I was too tired to continue to read, my oldest took over reading parts of the book to his younger siblings, and -- be still my Mama-prays-her-daughter-will-take-off-with-reading heart -- my daughter, who struggles immensely with reading, sometimes attempted to puzzle out parts of pages in the book, striking bargains, such as, "Mommy, if I read this part, will you finish the page with me?" How can a Mama say no to that? Regardless of how much I wanted to rest my eyes some nights, I ended up reading another chapter of the book when my daughter's enthusiasm for it prompted her to push through reading passages beyond her typical ability.
So it was, that the The Glass Castle became a book that we read at night, after breakfast, and in the minivan when waiting for classes or gatherings to start until it we finished it - which did not take many days! And so it was that Avery, Tuck, Kate, Kendrick, and all became part of the fabric of conversation and inspiration in our home.
More than once, I have heard my children chatting about the characters and plot of the The Glass Castle during their free time. A few times, I have even witnessed them engaging in dramatic play inspired by the book. And, I chuckled when my daughter began using choice time to draw trees as she decided to design a paper banner that represents herself and our family, much like Avery designed one for the children in The Glass Castle.
Would We Recommend the Book?
Without reservation, we would recommend The Glass Castle to others. In fact, my children and I already have as a clean, fun read that keeps you turning pages and can inspire conversation and activities, too.
My oldest said:
Mom, let's tell (friend's name) about it. He will LOVE this book. I like it.
He also gave the summary I already offered earlier in this review.
My youngest, at five, said:
I loved it! It was so awesome. It was exciting and has a lot of mystery. I liked when the kids became king and queen. I want to read the next one.
The fact that my youngest said this about a book that did not have explicit fighting in it is amazing. He is so into knights, battles, etc. that, typically, unless a book is a beautifully illustrated picture book or contains some battle scenes, he does not sit and listen to the entire thing. However, there was enough mystery and tension in The Glass Castle to keep him fully engaged each time we read the book aloud.
My daughter, however, was the book's biggest fan. She said:
When Mom started reading the book, it was at bedtime and I thought it was spooky. I did not want to read it anymore, but my brother wanted to. So, when she read the second chapter during the day, it got better, and by the third chapter I began to like it. By the fourth chapter, I loved it! I asked Mom to read three chapters or more at a time. I really got into the story and want to get the next one.
Avery is a little like me. She wants to figure more stuff out, to understand mysteries like me.
In the book, it said her mommy had had a brown eye and a blue eye and, when she saw a picture of the former queen, the queen did, too. So, I think the queen is her mother or something like that. They must be related... I cannot tell you more or it would spoil the story.
I like how there is a bad guy, or, actually, a bad gal. She is not really bad. She is just selfish. She wants to marry the boy that Avery is friends with and her brother is a scout.
In the story, there is a mystery, adventure, a little romance (that's why it's meant for ten year olds even though I am eight), faith, virtues, and much more.
I think it's kind of weird that someone in the story takes all thirteen year olds and brings them to a castle, but that that is part of they mystery.
You have to read it! It is a great story for people who like romance, adventure, faith, mysteries, and a tiny but of naughtiness from some of the characters.
I asked Mommy to get the next book called the Ruby Moon. I loved this book as a family read aloud.
Obviously, my children enjoyed this Christian-friendly, middle grade fiction book! So, we've already recommended The Glass Castle to local friends and now we are recommending it to you, too. The only caveat I would add to our recommendation is that, since the book is part of a series, not all the mysteries developed in the story are solved. Many questions remain open for future books in the series. This excited my children to read more, but, if you have a child who likes to "know everything that happened" by the end of a single book, then consider yourself forewarned, in The Glass Castle you will not come away with the satisfaction of knowing all the answers and action by the time the last page is read.
Ninety Schoolhouse Review families with children of all different ages read and reviewed this book meant for middle-grade readers. Some read it as family read together like my family did, and some approached reading it as independent pleasure or assigned reading. Learn what each thought about it by clicking through the banner below.
Shiloh Run Press is a division of Barbour Publishing, which can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
The next book in The Glass Castle series, The Ruby Moon, will be released in October 2016. My daughter already has it on her wish list! In the meantime, she is learning the virtue of patience waiting for its release and is also coming up with all sorts of possibilities of what might happen next and what might be the answer to some of the mysteries within The Glass Castle.
What clean, middle-grade fiction has captured your children's attention lately?