The Silver Star

Jeannette Walls. Scribner, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4516-6150-7
Readers of Walls’s bestselling memoir The Glass Castle may find this new novel too familiar to be entirely satisfying. When 12-year-old Bean Holladay and her 15-year-old sister, Liz, are abandoned by their narcissistic, unstable mother, Charlotte, they make their way to Byler, Va., Charlotte’s hometown, in search of an uncle they barely know. In Byler, Bean and Liz find not only their uncle, Tinsley, but also a community eager to see how Charlotte’s girls have turned out. The sisters attract particular attention from Jerry Maddox, foreman at the town mill, which the Holladays owned and operated in better times. Walls understands in her bones how growing up with a mentally ill parent can give children extraordinary skills and resilience but also leave them without any sense of the boundary between ordinary behavior and abuse. It’s clear from the beginning that Bean and Liz’s relationship with Maddox won’t end well, and their newfound family may not be able to sustain the damage. When Bean reads To Kill a Mockingbird in school, she seems like a long-lost cousin to Scout, and to the young Walls herself. The other characters are too often thinly conceived, but she makes for a strong and spunky protagonist. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, WME Entertainment. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/15/2013
Release date: 06/11/2013
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