The Silver Star

The Silver Star - Jeannette Walls Stunningly portraying the 1970s, [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls||21955595] is a book that sheds light on a dysfunctional family in which Bean and Liz Holladay maintain stability whereas their whimsical mother, Charlotte cannot. Reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird with a feisty child narrator learning the ways of the world – a grueling life task – this novel gripped me. [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls||21955595] is narrated by twelve year old Bean, who is a chicken pot pie enthusiast and rebel. Coupled with her sister Liz, this sister duo are abnormally independent for their ages. With their eccentric mother trying to achieve her lifelong musical aspirations, the two are often left alone to fend for themselves. When Charlotte is absent for too long though, the local authorities become suspicious, so the sisters take off to visit Uncle Hinsley unannounced, leaving California for Virginia.An apt bildungsroman, [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls||21955595] focuses on the growth of Bean, who does not fully comprehend the history of her father, the turbulence of racism, and the ills of society until the move to rural Byler. Though she is driven by spunk and curiosity, Bean has a lot to learn, and her experiences with Liz rid her of a blanket naïvety. The anguish that the sisters endure together, whether it is searching for a job, being ridiculed at school, or being the center of a scandalous court trial, are relatable for many readers. Even if they are not Walls presents them realistically. She has a penchant for portraying realism as though an effortless task. [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls||21955595] enraptured me with such authenticity.At many times the [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls||21955595] was inevitably analogous to To Kill A Mockingbird. I am not one to use another book as a basis for comparison, especially the sort that was not too profound to me. However, the two novels are riddled with themes that portray how corrupted yet frail human nature is through a child’s eyes. For the most part these social afflictions were not handled perfunctorily. Whether it was sexual violence and its ensuing effects or the mistreatment of employees, [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls||21955595] is a weighty book.Normally, reads like this tend to be overwhelming with such tales of unending woe; however, the characters that occupy the novel are delightful and memorable. Bean, of course, dominates with her bravery and wits. I did find the other characters lackluster in her presence. Liz, with her quirky rhyming spells, is calmer than Bean, and is often tangled in herself. Uncle Hinsley is a widower and hermit, clutching to the shabby remnants of the Holladay estate, in both material and name. The ever-erratic Charlotte is rarely around, and always exhibits manic behavior when she is. This eccentric lineup of characters gives [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls||21955595] that complexity and universality so often ascribed to literary fiction.What really captured me about [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls||21955595] though was its layered style and writing. It is enveloped in beautiful yet fulfilling metaphors and symbols – the kind that actually have a significance. The diction is of course dependent on the Bean’s voice which is that of a young child who is wise beyond her years, but with a lot to learn. Bean’s childhood innocence radiates nearly every passage, and this changes as she matures. The first-person narrative makes it easier for readers to associate with her story, and even provides comedic relief as she uses terms she has learnt from her loose-lipped mother.In a nutshell, [b:The Silver Star|16130291|The Silver Star|Jeannette Walls||21955595] has certainly become a favorite of mine. I do wish that it ended with an impact, but unfortunately it did not. With an abstract ending, it left me in an interpretative gaze that eventually manifested as disappointment. I yearned to know what Bean and Liz would turn into, but such is the life of a reader – we are often so consumed by a book, that we forget it has to end sometime. Despite this, I can still rejoice in its excellently crafted writing and style, its intriguing characters and its overall depth, worthy of examining.This review appeared first on Oh, Chrys!