'The Glass Castle' author Jeannette Walls to speak at Penn State Erie

Jeannette Walls, author of the critically acclaimed memoir “The Glass Castle,” will speak at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 15, in the Reed Union Building's McGarvey Commons at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. Walls’ Speaker Series presentation is titled “The Glass Castle: Demon Hunting and Other Life Lessons." Admission is free and open to the public.

A harrowing tale of extreme family dysfunction fueled by alcohol and impulsiveness, “The Glass Castle” recounts Walls’ impoverished upbringing, first in the desert southwest and later in a West Virginia mining town, by brilliant but irresponsible parents who manage to both neglect and inspire their four children. “Charles Dickens has nothing on Jeannette Walls,” an Atlanta Constitution reviewer wrote of the book. “Dickens’s scenes of poverty and hardship are no more audacious and no more provocative than those in the pages of this stunning memoir.”

After striking out on her own at age 16, Walls graduated from Barnard College and worked as a journalist in New York City for 20 years, writing for New York magazine, Esquire, MSNC.com and USA Today before deciding to share the story of a childhood she had previously kept a closely guarded secret. “The Glass Castle” has since sold 2.5 million copies in the United States alone, been translated into 22 languages, and optioned for film. The book spent 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and received numerous honors, including the Christopher Award for helping to “affirm the highest values of the human spirit,” the American Library Association’s Alex Award and the Books for Better Living Award. It also was named a Top 10 Book of the Decade by Amazon.com.

Walls’ follow up book, “Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel,” was inspired by the freewheeling frontier life of her maternal grandmother and became an immediate New York Times best-seller.

Jeannette Walls’ Penn State Behrend Speaker Series presentation is supported by the Student Activity Fee, the Division of Student Affairs, and the Harriet Behrend Ninow Memorial Lecture Series Fund. Also appearing in the series this spring will be “Planet Money” hosts Adam Davidson and Alex Blumberg on Tuesday, March 13, and National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence Spencer Wells on Thursday, April 2. For additional information, contact the Office of Student Activities at 814-898-6171.

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Last Updated January 18, 2012