Twinkle, Twinkle, Silver Star…(The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls)

April 26, 2013 Coming of Age, Family, Humor, Psychological 42

Howdy Bookworms!

I like to browse Amazon when I’ve got some down time. I’m always amused by what they “recommend” to me. As you know, on occasion I enjoy a trashy romance novel. It’s always funny to see my recommendations after I’ve downloaded one of those bad boys. Sometimes, though, their magical Amazon algorithms work appropriately and aren’t distracted by outliers. The other day I was hunting for a good read and I came across a new release by Jeanette Walls. You know, Jeanette Walls, of The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses?! I was REALLY excited! The only problem? It hasn’t been released yet. I hopped on over to NetGalley and hoped against hope that The Silver Star would be listed and that I could somehow convince the publisher to give me a copy. DUDE! IT WORKED!

FULL DISCLOSURE: I conned the wonderful people at Scribner (through NetGalley) into giving me an advanced copy of this book. In exchange for an honest review, of course. Again. I am a horrendous liar. Credibility: in tact.

The Silver Star follows the lives of a pair of sisters named Liz and Bean Holladay. Their mother is a bit of a free spirit… In the sense that she periodically abandons her children to pursue her music career and/or religious enlightenment… Liz and Bean are spooked when, during one of their mother’s prolonged absences, the cops start looming. Liz and Bean decide to hop a bus across the country and hole up in their mom’s hometown with the reclusive uncle they’ve never met. Hey, their options were limited, you know?


Liz is a smart, sensitive overachiever and she’s fiercely protective of Bean. Bean, despite her scattered upbringing, has emerged from childhood largely unscathed thanks to Liz’s consistent influence. Once Bean and Liz arrive in Byler, VA, they confront their mother’s past, their family history, and the realities of small town life in the south during the 70s. Neither Bean nor Liz have met their respective fathers, but being in Byler affords the girls the opportunity to spend some time with Bean’s extended family. Oh yeah. The once wealthy Holladay family is now kind of broke… And integration is happening just in time for the new school year. So. They’ve got a big steaming pot of drama as a backdrop for their coming of age story.

I really liked this book, you guys. Jeanette Walls has a way with storytelling. I thought the characterizations were beautiful- I felt very attached to Bean and Liz! Given her background, I’m always struck by how Jeanette Walls portrays irresponsible adults. (If you haven’t read The Glass Castle, you SHOULD, but her parents were just bananas.) I find her adult characters, though often deeply flawed, are portrayed with compassion. They’re given layers and histories that explain their motivations. Sometimes they’re mentally ill, sometimes they’re careless, but above all, they’re usually holding things together the best they can. I appreciate the lack of cynicism. It’s rather uplifting.

Now, to be fair, this didn’t hit me with the intensity that The Glass Castle did. HOWEVER. I think that’s because this is a work of fiction, and The Glass Castle is a memoir of “OMG I cannot believe this happened to real people” proportions. Vibe-wise, I would compare this book to The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (probably because of characters named Bean) and Homecoming by Cynthia Voight (because of journeys and long lost relatives.) Give it a shot!

On an unrelated note, I’d like to show you this:

This is Liz's spirit animal.

This is Liz’s spirit animal.

Why yes, that IS a photo of an emu looking hilarious and devious. It’s also COMPLETELY RELEVANT to this book. I just don’t know when I’m ever going to have an opportunity like this again so I am seizing the moment. EMU!!!

So, Bookworms. Tell me. Is there more ridiculous looking animal on the planet? What’s your favorite weird looking animal?

42 Responses to “Twinkle, Twinkle, Silver Star…(The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls)”

  1. JoulesDellinger

    First off, I love that Emu and I would like him to hang out outside my house to greet visitors. On a related note, there is an eppy of Scrubs where an Emu steals a hat and looks even more silly and devious.

  2. curiousseaturtle

    She has a new book?!? ACK! So excited!!! I was able to attending a reading/lecture that she gave once and I have to tell you, that spirit of forgiveness that shines through in her books? It shines through in person too. She just radiated calm and no matter what the question she would never, ever talk smack about her parents. I heart her forever.

  3. Claire

    Oh geeze … I was just having a conversation the other night with a friend about Amazon recommended books. It’s always those free (and pretty darn terrible) smutty romance novels that throw my recommendations off. Mixed with all the free cookbooks I download … it looks like all I do is sit around and cook fatty foods while reading romance books … which honestly, doesn’t sound half bad!

    • Words for Worms

      Sometimes, even if I think I’ve eliminated all the smut recommendations, I’ll still get them for having read like Lady Chatterley’s Lover. But you know, smut and fattening foods DOES sound pretty sweet.

  4. Nadia

    What a cool looking emu 😉 As far as the book goes, it sounds so good! I just went on Netgalley and requested it!! I’ve never read anything by Walls, but it sounds like I need to ASAP. I love that one of the characters is named Bean – reminds me of my BFF from college who I nicknamed Bean. I’m really looking forward to this book. I think it’ll be fascinating to read how Walls portrays these crazy-sounding parents. Great post!!

  5. somer

    I’m really excited that Walls has a new book coming out!! Hope I don’t have to wait too long for it. I loved her first 2 novels. I have to say that Half Broke Horses wasn’t quite as powerful as The Glass Castle, mostly because it wasn’t first hand. So I’d imagine I’d find her fiction on the same par as HBH. In any case, I’m sure it’s great and am looking forward to it!

    • Words for Worms

      Definitely more in the vein of HBH, but still fabulous. I believe its being released in the next month or so. Certainly available for pre-order! 🙂

  6. therelentlessreader

    Oh you lucky little ducky! I wonder if I should try and get this from Netgalley? Hmmm. NO NO, I can’t. I have too many books on there right now as it is! But I’ll be looking for this one eventually 🙂

  7. Megan M.

    That emu is adorable! I have an Australian friend and she sent my girls a stuffed emu as a present. For a little while the younger one slept with it. I keep hearing great things about The Glass Castle. I usually don’t do memoirs but I think I’ll check it out.

  8. Amanda

    That emu is the most hilarious thing, it looks so judgmental! I don’t think I can decide, there are so many ridiculous looking animals in this planet… On the topic of the book: it sounds really interesting, though I’ve never read anything by Jeanette Walls before. Maybe I’ll get it when it comes out, or check out The Glass Castle 🙂

  9. Lyssapants

    My spirit animal is an ermine. I think it suits me!
    Also, just how fast do you read?? How many pages do you read per day? When do you find time for all this reading? Do you sleep? ARE YOU A CYBORG?!

  10. Sarah

    Oh snap! She has a new book coming out!!! That’s awesome that you got to review an advanced copy. I’m definitely looking forward to it. She is a great writer, Remember the way she described that flash flood in the beginning of Half-Broke Horses? That was some beautiful writing.

  11. Michelle

    My jaws dropped open a few times when I was reading the Glass Castle – her parents were terrible and yet she is so calm and forgiving. I will wait for this to come out in Singapore then! You lucky you! 🙂

  12. Jeannine G.

    I received this one from NetGalley a couple weeks ago and plan on reading it later in May. It sounded like a fictional version of Glass Castle in the summary.

  13. PinotNinja

    I see your deviously judgmental emu, and I raise you an apathetic platypus. Australian animals totally have the i’m-cooler-than-you market cornered.

    I cannot wait to read this. Glass Castle is one of my all-time favorite memoirs — precisely because she can paint the characters in her life, particularly her parents, with such compassion and kindness even when they are doing utterly unfathomable things — and I have read at at least 10 times. I cannot wait to add this new book into my rotation.

  14. Leah

    This sounds so good! You’ll be pleased to know that I FINALLY bought a copy of The Glass Castle! I’ve been wanting to read it for ages, and I just found a copy at a library sale this weekend! I was beyond excited to buy it for $1.50. I can’t wait to read it! And this in a few months!

    • Words for Worms

      Yay! You will LOVE The Glass Castle. I mean, I really can’t imagine a scenario where you don’t love it. It’s pretty fabulous, and you with your non fear of the dark places and the Plath? I’m so looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

  15. Shannon

    I don’t know how I missed that you had read this? I’m glad to hear it’s good! I have a copy but haven’t gotten to it yet – now I’m even more excited…and want to know more about this emu.

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