The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls: book review

I recently finished reading the novel The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls.

Because I’m a big fan of her memoir The Glass Castle, I thought it was time to read another one of her books. I enjoyed The Silver Star and the fresh perspective offered by its twelve-year-old protagonist Bean. She and her older sister Liz are left to fend for themselves thanks to their selfish mother Charlotte, whose only concerns seem to be her lack of a singing career and herself.

The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls book reviewI chuckled many times at the juvenile logic and rash actions of feisty Bean, like when she decides how to handle her biggest adversary—the big baddie Maddox—by killing him. When she realizes the error of her judgment, she decides to slash his tires instead. Sounds just like how an adolescent girl would think.

Time and again the two sisters face difficulties and conflict while their mother is nowhere to be found, only to have her show up . . . too little, too late. Thank goodness for Uncle Tinsley, who takes his nieces in and helps them out after their mother goes missing in action. Tinsley really is the hero to Bean and Liz, and I would have liked for him to be a bigger part of the story. He remained a mystery in many ways: his own life, his relationship with his sister Charlotte, and his feelings for and interactions with his sister’s daughters.

I won’t spoil the story, but I did find it interesting that Charlotte never becomes the mother that her girls needed all along. While disappointing, it is the way of the real world where things don’t always work out “happily ever after.” Bean and Liz are transformed by their hardships and find stability with their strong bond as sisters and with their Uncle Tinsley, so there are some positive outcomes.

Just like The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls has written another story showing how family members can let each other down and yet still maintain a genuine love for one another. Bean and Liz still love their mother even though they know she’s no mother at all. They learn to accept her the way she is, warts and all. Bean does find her own voice and finally confronts her mother to let her know that all their problems could have been avoided if only Charlotte had been around doing her mothering job right in the first place. While agreeing with Bean’s assessment, Charlotte still runs off and leaves her kids behind in the end.

Sigh. Just like life, sometimes people let you down. Okay, a lot of the time people let you down. But in the end you can’t change anyone else; it’s how you change yourself from misfortune that molds your character and makes you stronger. Bean is quite a character, which is why I think you’ll like reading The Silver Star.

If you’ve read The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls, what did you think of it?

Brought To Our Senses family saga novel by Kathleen H. Wheeler