Friday, 19 October 2018

The Silver Star by: Jeannette Walls

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: June 11, 2013 by: Scribner
Pages: 267
Rating: 4/5 stars

Bean Holladay is living in 1970's California when her mother abandons her and her older sister Liz to go "find herself." The sisters get along fine for a while, but when the money runs out they decide to leave California and go live with their patient Uncle Tinsley in Virginia. While there, Bean learns more about her father's past in the war, and while she becomes fascinated with family history, her once bright sister begins to slip deeper into a depression, and is soon abused by the town bully, a wealthy man named Jerry Maddox. Soon Bean will have to take on the role of big sister, as well as learn more about the complicated race and class relations in 1970's Virginia.

Last summer I seemed to be on a mission to read whatever Jeanette Walls book I could get my hands on. I love her writing and I always seem to be fully captivated in all of her books. The worlds she creates are just incredible. While this book did keep me fully engrossed, it wasn't necessarily my favourite of hers, and this is mostly because of I think when a white writer is writing about race, there are always some issues needing to be brought up.

First off on a positive note, I did love the concept of this book. I think Walls did a great job at capturing the atmosphere of the South during the 70's, and the characters were also very well written. Bean was courageous and optimistic, and I really felt for Liz. Walls wrote amazing characters and made me feel a lot of emotion for them.

I was kept engaged through the entire book, however I did find some issues with some of the terms that Walls used. While I totally understand that she is writing a very harsh depiction of racial issues in Virginia during the time, frequent use of the n-word really shocked me because at the end of the day, she is a white author. Her white characters really do speak negatively and stereotypically of the black characters, and again, while this definitely did happen during the time, I wonder if Walls consulted black men and women living during the time period to draw upon their experiences. I cannot speak to whether or not the use of the n-word is ok in this context because I am not a black blogger, but I would love to read black reviewers thoughts on the subject. It just didn't sit well with me.

Overall, this book definitely had some great aspects to it, but like I said, I need to read some reviews from POC bloggers to see their opinions. It definitely did get me thinking.

Have you read The Silver Star? What did you think?


  1. Yeah... white authors taking on that subject is awkward and a super-fine-line, especially where the n-word is involved. There's def. a common opinion that white people shouldn't use the n-word at all, in any context, and I personally wouldn't use it b/c it's not my place, y'know?

    1. Yes, I would definitely not use it in any of my works, I don't think it is ok. I don't think that Walls found any problem using the n-word in her work because of the setting that she is writing in, but it is definitely something she should have considered.

  2. Great review!
    I like works that depicts the historical accuracy of the time. If the words that are used are accurate of the time and helps to portray the character, I say it's okay. If it doesn't add to the book then I would reconsider the choice of words.

    Dinh@Arlene's Book Club

    1. I definitely think that it reflected the historical accuracy of the time, I was just a bit uncomfortable because she is a white author at the end of the day. That being said, I definitely think that there is no definitive right or wrong here and it really just depends! It’s definitely a difficult topic.