Friday, October 25, 2013

The Silver Star

Though Half Broke Horses is technically Jeanette Walls’ first novel, it is based on the life of her grandmother. As the subtitle states, it is a “true-life novel”—something based in history and fact, but with creative license amply applied to fill in the blanks. In June, Walls released her second novel, The Silver Star, which was really her first. Make sense? I didn’t think so. This novel, though touching on themes that you might recognize from her other writings, was her first foray into storytelling without the story being attached to a life already lived.

The Silver Star chronicles the story of two sisters, Liz and Bean, as they make their way through life with a theatrical and sometimes unstable mother. The mother, originally hailing from Virginia, moves the girls around frequently and often leaves them to their own devices while she goes off to pursue her acting and music career. At one point, Bean accidentally divulges that she knows her mother is making up a boyfriend. Wow, is that a scary revelation. Their mother then disappears citing a necessary break to clear her head as the reason. When the girls realize that a local grocer has caught on to the fact that they are alone (and have been for a while), the sisters promptly jump on a bus to head to their mother’s hometown in Virginia to track down an uncle that they haven’t seen in years. That is only the beginning…

Though Walls claims this book is pure fiction, I get the sense that it still chronicles familiar parts of her childhood—as evidenced in The Glass Castle. I also feel like the adventurous edge with the unfortunate incidents, but discovery of unconditional love is something that Walls might have dreamed of when she was making her way through her childhood. The Silver Star is well-written, entertaining, and character driven. Essentially, it is the well executed storytelling we’ve come to expect from Walls. I, personally, look forward to anything and everything Walls has to offer. If you are not familiar with her writing, I strongly urge you to become familiar. The tragic beauty of her stories will stay with you.

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