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The Silver Star: A Novel [Hardcover]

Jeannette Walls
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 11 2013
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 But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn.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.

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Walls has written yet another gripping story of a courageous and sensible girl surviving the adults around her.” (Holly Silva St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

“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.” (Nicholas Mancusi The Daily Beast)

“At heart Walls is a wonderful yarn-spinner…This is a page-turner, built for hammock or beach reading.” (Karen Valby Entertainment Weekly)

“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.” (Carmela Ciuraru USA Today)

“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.” (Parade)

“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.” (Jane Sumner Dallas Morning News)

“Great writing…An absorbing, unsentimental tale of childhood.” (Chelsea Cain The New York Times Book Review)

“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.)” (Angela Mattano Campus Circle Magazine)

“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.” (Real Simple)

“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.” (Abbe Wright O, the Oprah magazine)

“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.” (Kristin Fritz

“Walls’ writing is lively and her dialogue crips, and the girls’ struggles with their mother ring true.” (Margaret Quamme The Columbus Dispatch)

“[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 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.” (Amy MacKinnon The Patriot Ledger)

“Jeannette Walls jumps off the memoir train and hitches a ride on the novel form with The Silver Star.” (Elissa Schappell Vanity Fair)

“[A] captivating, read-in-one-sitting, coming-of-age adventure.” (Booklist)

“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.” (Publishers Weekly)

“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.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“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.” (

About the Author

Jeannette Walls graduated from Barnard College and was a journalist in New York. Her memoir, The Glass Castle, has been a New York Times bestseller for more than six years. She is also the author of the instant New York Times bestsellers, The Silver Star and Half Broke Horses, which was named one of the ten best books of 2009 by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. Walls lives in rural Virginia with her husband, the writer John Taylor.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An okay read Aug. 11 2013
By Reni
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Maybe I was spoilt by her two previous books that were excellent.
It's still a well paced read, lively, but somewhat predictable.
A bit like a formula.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read! Sept. 15 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book is amazing! I loved everything about it. It made me laugh, cry and think - a great combination!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of Beans :-) Sept. 10 2013
I loved this book about two young girls during a summer of transition set in 1970. You first grow to love the characters, then have a cloud of dread hanging over you as you turn the pages on their activities with today's headlines in your adult mind. But the author goes for a more gentle approach to bring her lessons home. Lessons about human frailty, perseverance, humour and Silver Star courage. I read Jeannette Walls two previous auto/biographical novels but enjoyed this work of fiction more. It is the first book I have read in one sitting in years because I had no idea where the story was leading right up until the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite novelists Sept. 7 2013
By Bonbon
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I looked forward to reading this every chance I got. Definitely one of my favorite novelists. Read Half Broke Horses and became hooked.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good read! July 20 2014
By Ariane
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
So happy to have another Jeannette Walls book to read. This reads very much like the others, which were semi-autobiographical, while this is strictly a novel. The characters are quirky, but believable and well developed. Good insights into human nature, and as always, the emphasis is on the importance of family relationships.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A DEEPLY MOVING NOVEL! Aug. 4 2013
By Janet Babins TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It is 1970 in a small town called Lost Lake in the Colorado Desert of Southern California, where an artistic mother, Charlotte, and her two daughters, Liz and Bean (real name Jean) live. Liz is fifteen and Bean is twelve. They live on an inheritance that Charlotte's father left her. He was the owner of a cotton mill in Byler, Virginia. The mill and the big decaying old mansion called Mayfield were left to Charlotte's brother, Tinsley. A few years ago, Tinsley sold the mill and now lives in the big mansion with his wife, Martha.

Charlotte thinks of herself as a singer, writer and actress. She is thirty-six years old and has had no success with either. She hadn't paid her bills, so now the telephone has been cut off, but she decided to take off to find a singing gig, leaving the girls enough money to last a month or two. The girls are now living on the usual chicken potpies, which they stocked up on and even ate for breakfast. Liz took charge of everything until their mother's return, whenever that will be. Bean loves her sister and does whatever she says. They kept their home spotless. They never missed school and they were never late.

Charlotte finally returned home and told the girls that while she was at the recording studio, she met a man named Mark Parker, a record producer. He told Charlotte that her voice was too distinctive and she was upstaging the lead singers. He also told her at dinner that she had star quality and they talked about how he could help jump-start her career. She returned home saying that Mark Parker was coming to Lost Lake. Mark Parker never showed up. Bean began to question her mother and finally, Charlotte told them she lied about the whole thing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars July 14 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
no comment
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By Kate
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Well written and easy to read not terribly demanding but the story kept me interested. A little strained, I thought - the girls were almost twoo adult evn tho they were reacting to their envionment.
Recommended for young adults.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I loved her memoir
I loved her memoir, but this book felt thin like she hasn't yet hit her stride in writing fiction. In terms of books about the South, I much preferred Sue Monk Kidd's Invention of... Read more
Published 14 days ago by Heather Leighton
3.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read but poor ending. Story ended abruptly leaving...
Very interesting read but poor ending. Story ended abruptly leaving loose ends to story lines. When I hit the last page and realized it was the end I was surprised and disappointed
Published 22 days ago by Marlene Crago
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Awesome read!!
Published 28 days ago by Sue
1.0 out of 5 stars Fair.
I was disappointed in the ending. It was not as good as her other two books. It was not worth reading.
Published 1 month ago by Diane Crews
2.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat similar but not as good as Glass Houses
Feels too similar in overall sentiment to Glass Houses. Fine for a summre read on vacation but I could take it or leave it.
Published 3 months ago by Theresa L Francis
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Great read!!!
Another great book by Janette Walls. I hope she keeps on writing because she never lets me down.
Published 4 months ago by M. Teron
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
Interesting...good book...enjoyed her other books a bit more but still a very good read..recommended as a lighthearted read for anyone
Published 5 months ago by swimtaxi
4.0 out of 5 stars A good story
I really enjoyed reading this novel, my first by Jeannette Walls. The imagery was vivid and the characters spoke to me. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Caroline
4.0 out of 5 stars a great read, easy and interesting
The story was great, easy to follow and entertaining. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a light read!
Published 7 months ago by June
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this book!
We read this book as part of a Bookclub, so far it has been the best on this year. It is a heartwarming story with ups and downs that make you laugh, cry and get angry.
Published 7 months ago by Cindyw
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