For The Someday Book

Book Review: The Silver Star

Posted on: December 31, 2014

The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls, Scribner, 304 pp.

Silver StarCharlotte Holladay ran away from her life as a Southern belle, daughter of the wealthy family living in their former plantation in a small town in Virginia. She married and had children, but left town after her husband’s death. She made a new life for herself as a wanderer, folk singer, drug user and wanderer in California in the 1960’s. Now she is a single mom of two daughters, ages 12 and 15, when life gets to be too much. She has left them before, but never for very long, and this time the police take notice.

The two girls, Liz and Bean, take a bus to the family home in Virginia, where they have not been since they were very young. They find Charlotte’s brother as a recluse in the family home, and Bean (the younger) begins to discover the history of her father and his family.  Eventually Charlotte returns, but the girls have made a new life in Byler. They begin working for Jerry Maddox, who is a bully in every way. The reader can immediately see where the plot is headed, as Jerry’s behavior eventually harms the girls and causes a catastrophic upset in the system of this Southern town, and of Liz and Bean’s lives.

I checked out this book because Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle was outstanding. It was deep and emotional and detailed and beautiful. This book lacked all of those things. Liz and Bean and Charlotte’s relationships with each other were generally uninspired, and the plot itself was predictable and unsurprising. While it wasn’t poorly written, the writing did not speak with any great art or beauty, and the characters failed to rise above stereotypes.

Those of you who read this blog regularly know that I rarely give poor reviews–largely because I don’t read things I don’t enjoy. However, I kept thinking that this one would get better, based on my experience of The Glass Castle. It never did. Don’t waste your time on this one. At best, it gets a “meh.” Hopefully Walls will return to her former ways in her next work.

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About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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