Book Review: The Silver Star


It is 1970. ‘Bean’ Holladay is twelve and her sister Liz fifteen when their artistic mother Charlotte, a woman who ‘flees every place she’s ever lived at the first sign of trouble’, takes off to ‘find herself’. She leaves the girls enough money for food to last a month or two. But when Bean gets home from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz board a bus from California to Virginia, where their widowed Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying antebellum mansion that has been in the family for generations.

An impetuous optimist, Bean discovers who her father was and learns many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Money is tight, so Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Madox, foreman of the mill in town, a big man who bullies workers, tenants and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister, inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, non-conformist. But when school starts in the autumn, it is Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. 

First line: “My sister saved my life when I was just a baby.”

Title: The Silver Star
Author: Jeannette Walls
My edition: A paperback from Scribner with 267 pages, published in 2013.
Age: Adult (but about 17+)
Genres: Historical fiction, Young Adult, Coming of Age, Adult, Contemporary

It was a spontaneous buy at the local bookstore, and I started reading it because the plot seemed interesting. Plus, the cover and the title seemed kind of cool. But don’t avoid reading it though, because it’s kind of a good book


After reading this book I was torn. Did I like it? Did I hate it? Had I just spent like a month on a book that I felt like was wasted time? I think maybe it was wasted time because it took me so long to get through this book. I wanted it to be over several times, just so that I could continue reading something else. But I didn’t want to put it down either, and I was so conflicted – because I hated it and loved it at the same time.

The plot is simple, two sisters, kind of neglected at home decides to travel across the country to a relative they don’t know. It sounds interesting, I know! So I started the book, and I fell in love with the characters, but there was just something missing. And I think, after a long hard think, that it’s so naive, and I felt like I was reading about a ton of different subjects like racism, rape, family drama, it was just so many subjects that I thought was important to discuss, but they were just touched and then moved on from.

So the plot is interesting, but there’s just so much that made me not like this book. It felt boring, it felt like there wasn’t any drive at all. It just felt like this empty book with words and no meaning at all.

I actually liked her writing, it felt complete, like she’d already found her voice and she was now developing it. But at the same time, I can see so many people who have read Jeannette Walls before, loving her books, especially her memoir “Glass Castle”, but they didn’t like this book. So I’m thinking that maybe there was just something that went wrong here. Was she maybe in a rush? I don’t know.

She writes beautifully, but the words just doesn’t stretch far enough to grasp the book’s content. I want to like it so badly, but I just can’t.


Bean was my favorite character, the older sister. She’s twelve years old, and she’s independent and caring of her younger sister. We read everything from Bean’s point of view, which makes the book more beautiful actually. Because we get that small part of Bean’s naivity mixed in with the more adult side of her. I feel like she grew up too fast and she’s kind of conflicted about the fact that she’s no longer a child, she has to take care of Liz, her younger sister. But then again, she also lost me about halfway through, I didn’t understand her choices and I couldn’t click with the way she thought.

Liz wasn’t a memorable character, I’ve almost forgotten all about her as I sit here like a year after I first wrote the review and feel like I have no idea who this girl was. I remember that I felt like she suddenly grew up, that she was suddenly too mature for her age – and that kind of ruined her for me. Suddenly she had thoughts about rape and racism, and I don’t think that would have been the case in real life.

It’s a short book, and sometimes I enjoyed Walls’ writing and her characters, but sometimes I was kind of wondering why she even bothered to write the book. It felt rushed, it felt shallow somehow, and I don’t want to pick on her as a writer, because I think that you can’t really have an opinion before you’ve read everything, but this book just didn’t make me want to read more of her.

I enjoy the cover, I think it gives this mysterious look into what the story is about. If you think really deep about it, it’s really about two young girls starting off bad, but ending up in a good place, therefore the tunnel and the light at the end of the tunnel?

Favorite quote: “Don’t be afraid of your dark places, if you can shine a light on them, you’ll find a treasure there.” 



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