Saturday, July 6, 2013

Alice's Review: The Silver Star

Summary:  IT IS 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, a woman who “found something wrong with every place she ever lived,” takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations.  An impetuous optimist, Bean soon discovers who her father was, and hears many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Because money is tight, Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town — a big man who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister — inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz. ~

Review:  A few years ago, I came across one of the best memoirs I ever read when a coworker left a copy of The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls in the community library at work.  I loved that book and hoped that I would feel the same about Ms. Walls leap into fiction.  The Silver Star exceeded my expectations with memorable characters, beautiful prose, and so much heart I could feel it beating throughout the novel.

Immediately after I finished reading The Silver Star, I wanted to read it again.  Sometimes simple stories are the best.  Sometimes honest straightforward characters hold your heart more than ones filled with angst and drama.  Don’t get me wrong, there was conflict I knew would get resolved but I just didn’t know how.  It had to.  You can’t have such great characters and have only bad things happen.  There has to be hope.

I do feel the novel is flawed.  The story is basic and elementary.  I know some readers will find it lacking.  Truth be told perhaps the plot could have been more complicated, however I appreciated The Silver Star for what it is:  a simple story about two sisters who are brave beyond measure.  I especially loved Bean and her ability to adjust to whatever came her way.  She manages to be a chameleon yet never sacrifices her integrity and her true grit. Bean is a fighter, through and through.  She has courage in spades and a resilience that is admirable. 

 Ms. Walls wrote well-rounded characters that dealt with life as it came to them.  No problem was too great because they had the one thing that held them steadfast through their trials, hope.    It was the same hope that she captured in The Glass Castle and it’s this hope that makes The Silver Star one of the best novels I have read this year.

Final Take:  5/5



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