Jeannette Walls has written a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about an intrepid girl who challenges the injustice of the adult world - a triumph of imagination and storytelling.
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 But when school starts in the fall, it's Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn.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.
Jeannette Walls, supremely alert to abuse of adult power, has written a deeply moving novel about triumph over adversity and about people who find a way to love each other and the world, despite its flaws and injustices.
"Starred Review. Walls turns what could have been another sentimental girl-on-the-run-finds-home cliché into a fresh consideration of both adolescence and the South on the cusp of major social change." - Kirkus
"Readers of Walls's bestselling memoir The Glass Castle may find this new novel too familiar to be entirely satisfying." - Publishers Weekly
"Readers familiar with Walls' backstory from her luminous memoir, The Glass Castle (2005), will recognize elements of her personal history in this captivating, read-in-one-sitting, coming-of-age adventure." - Booklist
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Rated of 5
If ever an author is able to write a wonderfully poignant novel about two young girls and an unstable mother, Wallis is the one. She has a such a fluent way of storytelling and a compassionate treatment of her characters. Bean is twelve, her sister fifteen and though it is usually her older sister who takes care of her, circumstances will later dictate that it is Bean who will become the fighter. Bean has a big mouth, she believe in justice and she does not believe in letting things go. She reminds me so much of myself at that age. Unfortunately for many of us family or life circumstances make one grow up much faster than their chronological age can show. Bean is our narrator and I do not believe she is an unreliable one. Although they grew up faster as far as responsibility, the girls are still naive in many things to do with the world.
Family, and family loyalty are also themes. The pros and cons of living in a small town. Segregation and the repercussions of schools being forced to segregate. I also liked the almost tender way Wallis treats the mental illness of their mother, who does manage to hold it together long enough when her daughter really needed her. Bean wormed her way into my heart, just as a young Jeanette did in her memoir, "Glass Castle." She understands young girls and I hope she writes many more stories such a this one. She really gets it. ARC from Publisher.
Jeannette Walls was born on April 21, 1960 to Rex and Rose Mary Walls in Phoenix, Arizona.
After her junior year of high school Walls moved away from home to live in New York City with her older sister, Lori. There she began her career as a journalist, working for The Phoenix. She graduated from Barnard College in 1984 with honors. Walls is known for her work on the MSNBC.com gossip column "Scoop". She is also the author of four books: Dish: The Inside Story on the World of Gossip (2000), The Glass Castle (2005), her first fiction work Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel (2009), and her latest novel The Silver Star (2013).
In 1988 Walls was married to Eric Goldberg. The two later divorced and she was remarried to John Taylor, a fellow journalist, in 2002. Walls has contributed to New ...
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