It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their widowed Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations.
An impetuous optimist, Bean soon discovers who her father was, and hears stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Money is tight, and the sisters start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town, who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Liz is whip-smart–an inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist, but when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz in the car with Maddox.
Jeannette Walls has written a deeply moving novel about triumph over adversity and about people who find a way to love each other and the world, despite its flaws and injustices.
Story time: My senior year of high school, I took College English (read: Comp 1/freshman level English class) with one of my favorite high school teachers. We read a bunch of essay, thought critically about stuff, an
d read one book, The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. While it doesn’t rank as one of my favorite books not did it particularly change my life in any way, I did really enjoy it. And more importantly, I really liked talking about it and writing about it. Probably one of the easier papers I wrote that year. So I did what anyone would do; I found out what other books she had written then and read them.
Flash forward to this past spring and I’m doing my regular activity of browsing the clearance section of Half-Priced Books (always look here first when you go, BTW) and I found a new book by Jeanette Walls. And I finally got around to reading it.
I felt like it took me awhile to get into the very beginning, but once I bought the premise, I was in. And I did like it, but I felt like it was trying to tackle too much at once and wrapped everything up too quickly. And there was a lot of allusion to To Kill A Mockingbird which I wasn’t into because I thought it was trying too hard, especially towards the end. The ending, I thought was really unrealistic. Everything wrapped up too nicely, especially with the issues that the novel was attempting to tackle.
I really love Jeanette Walls’ writing. She has a lot of experience in journalism which I think influences her writing. Even though it took me a bit to get into this book, her writing really speaks to me. It’s a perfect balance of description and dialogue for me. So many have too much of one or the other.
As far as characters go, it was very bland. Like all the characters were exactly what you’d expect. Not in a bad way though, just not much to say about it one way or another.
Overall, while I did enjoy this book, I would recommend Walls’ other work over this one. I feel like this one doesn’t stand up to other works. If you’ve already read some of her work and are a fan, I could see you enjoying this.
Bookstore Rec Blurb: “The Silver Star tells the story of how two sisters deal with their mother leaving. Walls’ writing is exceptional. Recommended for To Kill A Mockingbird lovers.”