June 2013 Indie Next List
“In this novel by bestselling memoirist Walls, 12-year-old Bean and her older sister Liz are left to fend for themselves when their musically inclined mother takes her leave of them to 'sort things out.' The sisters embark on a trip from California to Virginia to find their Uncle Tinsley and, hopefully, some stability. Bean's impetuous enthusiasm and clear sense of what is right are the girls' best defense against the prejudices, injustices, and abuse that await them in 1970s Byler, Virginia. Scout Finch has met her match in Bean in this wonderfully woven tale of perseverance, strong family bonds, the triumph of love and loyalty, and the emergence of unlikely heroes. Pitch perfect and pure pleasure!”
— Linda McLoughlin Figel, pages: a bookstore, Manhattan Beach, CA
The Silver Star, Jeannette Walls has written a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about an intrepid girl who challenges the injustice of the adult world a triumph of imagination and storytelling.
It is 1970 in a small town in California. Bean Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, a woman who found something wrong with every place she ever lived, 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 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 many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Because money is tight, Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town a big man who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist. But when school starts in the fall, it's Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz.
Jeannette Walls, supremely alert to abuse of adult power, 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.
“By turns witty, warm and provocative, this all ages read by the author of The Glass Castle is a perfect choice for your high school mother-daughter book club or to throw in your beach bag this summer.”
“Walls turns what could have been another sentimental girl-on-the-run-finds-home cliché into a fresh consideration of both adolescence and the South on the cusp of major social change.”
“When Bean reads To Kill a Mockingbird in school, she seems like a long-lost cousin to Scout…She makes for a strong and spunky protagonist.”
“[A] captivating, read-in-one-sitting, coming-of-age adventure.”
“Jeannette Walls jumps off the memoir train and hitches a ride on the novel form with The Silver Star.”
“Jeannette Walls transports us with her powerful storytelling…Using Bean’s expertly crafted, naively stubborn voice, Walls contemplates the extraordinary bravery needed to confront real-life demons in a world where the hardest thing to do may be to not run away.”
“Walls writes with equal tenderness for her most beloved characters and the least among them. It takes a compassionate soul to find the beauty in despair and that’s what Walls does best.”
“Walls writes with easy assurance about Liz and Bean, proving in fiction as she did in her memoir, The Glass Castle, that she knows children’s hearts—as well as the evil that can lurk in the hearts of grown-ups.”
“Walls is adept at steeping her characters in some intense, old-fashioned drama…The Silver Star is a lovely, moving novel with an appealing narrator in Bean.”
“At heart Walls is a wonderful yarn-spinner…This is a page-turner, built for hammock or beach reading.”
“Walls writes with the paired-down incisiveness of a memoirist looking for the significance of every incident, but it’s the way she draws Bean, so strong even in the face of all the additional challenges that come with her age, gender, and innocence, that will make this book a hit with readers.”
Walls has written yet another gripping story of a courageous and sensible girl surviving the adults around her.”
“[The Silver Star is] an examination of bad parenting and resilient children in a rich and complex setting. Bean is a compelling character, and it is fascinating to watch her ideas about both her mother and her sister change as the book progresses.”
-Sarah Rachel Egelman
“Walls’ writing is lively and her dialogue crips, and the girls’ struggles with their mother ring true.”
“Jeannette Walls is a master at her craft. In the same way she spoke candidly of her own parents’ shortcomings in The Glass Castle, in The Silver Star she lends this candid voice to Bean, and captures the inner workings of an adolescent’s mind perfectly….The Silver Star stands strong as its own story, wholly unique and wholly captivating.”
“Great writing…An absorbing, unsentimental tale of childhood.”
“A polished work of fiction…Engaging…Fans will find echoes of her coruscating family chronicle that first struck a chord with readers in 2005, but The Silver Star is the novel of a more confident, mature and calculating writer…[an] atmospheric bildungsroman of adolescent passage, changing times and bent but unbroken family bonds.”
“With immense charm and warmth, Walls, the author of The Glass Castle, has created a lively account of kids finding a way to thrive in the absence of reliable parents.”
“A great spirit comes through The Silver Star…Jeannette Walls knows how to make characters pop off the page (and tear your heart out in the process.)”