Thursday, June 27, 2013
The Silver Star; Jeanette Walls
Title: The Silver Star
Author: Jeanette Walls
Publication Year: 2013
Setting: CA and Virginia
Date Completed: June - 2013
The year is 1970 and 12 year-old Jean (know better as Bean) Holladay and her 15 year-old sister Liz, llive in the town of Lost Lakes, CA with their irresponsible mother Charlotte. Charlotte hasn't "found herself" yet, so it isn't unusual for her to take off for a few days or more leaving the girls to fend for themselves. While she is gone, we are never sure what she is doing, but she is bent on making it big: actress, singer or whatever else she might be keen on at the time. Bean and Liz are used to not staying in any one place very long thanks to Charlotte.
The last time their mother leaves, she is gone for several weeks. There are no calls, and the $200 she leaves the girls for food is dwindling fast. One day, the girls get nervous when they see the police car in front of their house. They don't want to have to answer any questions about their absent mother so they come up with a plan. They buy two bus tickets for a cross country trip to visit Uncle Tinsley, their mother's brother, who they have not seen in years. Uncle Tinsley lives in a big old crumbling mansion in the small town of Byler, VA; he is somewhat of a hoarder. When the girls arrive, they are not sure their uncle is happy to see them. In fact, the first night he has the girls sleep in the barn. Before long he invites them inside, feeds them and becomes somewhat of a father figure to them. Uncle Tinsley establishes some routines, gets them enrolled in school and really wants to see the girls thrive.
Although UncleTinsley provides a safe environment for the girls, it is not always possible for him to protect them from bullies and others in town who do not have their best interest at heart. Liz and her sister, grown up fast. In a short period of time, they learn about their fathers, their mother, as well as some other very real issues like racism and predators.
I liked this story and thought that Bean made the perfect narrator. She was smart, brave, spunky and someone that I rooted for throughout the book. The author did a good job with this story, but at times I wasn't sure whether she intended it for adults or young adults as it had a feel of both genres at times. The setting,1970s South seemed realistic, or at least how I imagined small-town life to be at that time. Jeanette Walls knows how to write about painful situations and abusive adults. Her first book, The Glass Castle, a memoir, was wonderful as well as brutal. I also enjoyed her second book, Half Broke Horses.
Readers who enjoy stories about dysfunctional families, especially ones with strong, resilient youngsters, will cheer for the young champions of The Silver Star.