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The Silver Star: A Novel Hardcover – June 11, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Being a single mother is never easy, but for Charlotte Holladay, a wannabe folk singer in 1970, raising her 15- and 12-year-old daughters, Liz and Jean (aka “Bean”), is more than she can handle. Known for dropping out when things get tough, Charlotte’s latest spell of parental abandonment attracts police attention and the girls flee California rather than face being placed in foster care. A cross-country bus trip lands them on the doorstep of their only relative, the previously unmet Uncle Tinsley, and their arrival proves to be as much of a shock for the reclusive widower as it is for the girls themselves. As the trio learns to coexist, Liz and Bean try to fit into the small southern town. With money tight, they land jobs with mill foreman Jerry Maddox, an overbearing brute who runs roughshod over the town’s residents and takes advantage of Liz’s trusting nature, with devastating results. Readers familiar with Walls’ backstory from her luminous memoir, The Glass Castle (2005), will recognize elements of her personal history in this captivating, read-in-one-sitting, coming-of-age adventure. --Carol Haggas


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.” (

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (June 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451661509
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451661507
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,593 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,480 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeannette Walls lives in Virginia and is married to the writer John Taylor. She is a regular contributor to MSNBC and has worked at several publications, including Esquire, USA Today, and New York.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

159 of 170 people found the following review helpful By Debbi Feiner on June 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Because as other reviewers have said, The Glass Castle is one of my favorite books- but this seemed like it came from a different author and definitely for a younger readership. I pre-ordered it as well and couldn't wait for it to arrive. Then I couldn't wait to get to it, then for it to get better, and it just never did. Too many stereotypes and not an interesting enough plot were its biggest failings. Dysfunctional family books, stories of quirky and or bad parents, voices of young people telling tales of survival in tough circumstances are all of great interest to me, and I believe Jeanette Walls is a wonderful writer. Having said that, I still was very disappointed by this book.
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145 of 157 people found the following review helpful By vickya on June 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is no bigger fan of The Glass Castle, and I dislike giving a poor review, but I found Silver Star to be sadly disappointing. And let me be clear, Silver Star fails all on its own - and not because it doesn't measure up to the transcendence of Glass Castle. While it contains a fair amount of action, it feels thin and lacking in depth.

i won't rehash the plot lines since other reviewers have done a good job already. My take about 30 pages in was that this book should be marketed for teen readers. While the painful "bad mother" themes were revisited in this book, Walls did so with superficiality and hasty wrap-ups of mini plot lines, shallow dialogue, and quite frankly, cardboard villains and good guys. I don't see where the 4 and 5 stars are coming from, but that is the beauty of subjectivity. Books mean something different to everyone. Fans of Walls have been waiting for this book. It was such a letdown.
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56 of 62 people found the following review helpful By T. L. Preble on June 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loved Walls' "Glass Castle" and "Half-Broke Horses". Totally disappointed with Silver Star. One reviewer said it reads like a YA fiction....I've read many wonderful YA fiction books, and this was poorly written. Boring, predictable and overly simple. Seems written more for middle school girls than adult fiction.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jon (Scott Reads It!) on June 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"Find the magic," Mom always said. "And If you can't find the magic," she added, "then make the magic."

The Silver Star is one of those books that I loved but at the same time I'm not sure if it was all that great. On one hand, The Silver Star is an excellent, quick coming-of-age story but on the other hand it's kind of disappointing after reading The Glass Castle. The Glass Castle is my favorite non-fiction book ever written and it was just so mesmerizing The Silver Star doesn't exactly deliver the same emotional punch that The Glass Castle had but it's still an entertaining read. Thank you Scribner for providing me with an ARC of The Silver Star in exchange for a honest review.

If you've read The Glass Castle, parts of The Silver Star may seem pretty similar to you. Negligent, abusive mother mistreats her kids who are way smarter than all the other adults. The kids have to fend for themselves in a tough world where it's seems like everyone is out to get them. The family is constantly running away from their problems and the world isn't so kind to them.

The Silver Star is a story written in the same vein as The Glass Castle. There are themes about growing up, family, and loyalty spread out through the novel. The Silver Star explores racial and socioeconomic boundaries but Walls doesn't develop these themes well. The way Walls explores racial boundaries is pretty basic and doesn't really go beyond the fact that racism is bad. This book is marketed as an adult novel but it feels more like a Middle Grade or YA novel.

I really liked the characters Walls created in this novel even though they do share similarities with the characters from The Glass Castle. Jean and Liz were interesting protagonists and I loved how resourceful.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Vivian Fransen on June 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Any readers who grew up in the midst of disturbing family circumstances--with
or without chicken potpies--may find this story of special interest. Once again,
Jeannette Walls tells an engaging story with unpredictable twists and turns, providing
a treasure chest of insights on family dynamics along the way. I enjoyed the charm
of her wordplay and expressions ("tire-kickers," "bandersnatches," "rigor buttis").
And I love the way she inspires me to think about how the bond between two sisters
can be the key to survival. Yes, it's clearly marked as a novel, but parts of the story
sure ring true to me.

It's a winner. A great read for the beach, a rainy day, or to jumpstart a lively
conversation at a book group...or even with your own family.

Bravo, Jeannette. You've done it again! Keep writing.
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79 of 97 people found the following review helpful By Ashley C, on June 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is definitely along the same vein as "The Glass Castle" and "Half-Broke Horses" - many of the themes are the same - but this is a slight step below. If this had been my first Jeannette Walls book, I would have loved it, but since it is my third, I felt the ending was slightly rushed and that the writing was a little too cutesy at times. However, this is like comparing two exceptional pieces of art against a third good piece by the same artist. It's still pretty good, just not as great as the first two.

That being said, I would still recommend this book as a pretty quick read (I read it in one sitting on a 5-hour train ride) and it completely kept my attention. I look forward to more work by Jeannette Walls.
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