The Silver Star: A Novel by Jeannette WallsThe Silver Star: A Novel by Jeannette Walls

The Silver Star: A Novel

byJeannette Walls

Paperback | June 3, 2014

Pricing and Purchase Info

$20.26 online 
$23.00 list price save 11%
Earn 101 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls’ gripping new novel that "transports us with her powerful storytelling...She contemplates the extraordinary bravery needed to confront real-life demons in a world where the hardest thing to do may be to not run away" (O, The Oprah Magazine).

It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, 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 widowed 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 stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Money is tight, and the sisters start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town, who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Liz is whip-smart—an inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz in the car with Maddox.

Jeannette Walls 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.
Jeannette Walls was born in Phoenix, Arizona on April 21, 1960. She graduated from Barnard College and was a journalist in New York City for twenty years. Her books include her memoir entitled,The Glass Castle and a fiction novel based on her grandmother entitled, Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel. Walls novel The Silver Star made t...
Title:The Silver Star: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 0.6 inPublished:June 3, 2014Publisher:ScribnerLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1451661541

ISBN - 13:9781451661545

Look for similar items by category:


Rated 1 out of 5 by from like glass castle light disappointing to read a full length novel of an author plagiarizing herself. i loved the glass castle and half broke horses, but this pale imitation hurts to include as part of walls' written works.
Date published: 2018-01-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great book! Bought this after reading glass castle, was a very good read still loved glass castle better
Date published: 2017-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Wow, what a fantastic read.
Date published: 2017-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book! This is another great book by Jeannette Walls. Well worth the read. You finish it like all the others, with wanting more!
Date published: 2017-09-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it Read the glass castle and loved it so decided to try this one, just as amazing
Date published: 2017-09-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it It was surprisingly funny and just an overall great book
Date published: 2017-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A cute little novel This novel will take no time at all to read. It is very interesting, and the author does a great job keeping you captivated. The book is a rather simple novel, and fairly straightforward which makes it an each read if you are on the beach, on an airplane, or simply looking for a quick afternoon read. The two main characters in the story are very entertaining girls, which makes the story very funny and enjoyable.
Date published: 2017-08-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read! I enjoyed this book - it kept me interested.
Date published: 2017-03-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Entertaining! I've read all of Walls books, this was yet another entertaining read on her upbringing.
Date published: 2017-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jeannette Walls does not disapoint She is a great story teller and these tales of family dynamics are entrancing. Love all her books and this one is no different.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Stellar Read I'm a huge fan of Jeannette Walls, so I had high hopes before reading this book. It was a fantastic read, transporting you back decades ago. It's a raw story, nothing less than what you'd expect from a Walls book. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from great enjoyed this book, but not as much as her other book, the glass castle
Date published: 2016-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quick Read I didn't like this book as much as her others, but it's still worth a read if you're looking for something quick and easy.
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Read!! I picked this book up Saturday just to have something to read while I was sitting outside - I couldn't put the book down! Great easy read! I recommend this book to everyone!
Date published: 2016-05-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love Jeannette Walls Writing Style Jeannette Walls is a great story teller. The Silver Star did not disappoint; I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2015-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Silver Star Loved this story. This has so many life lessons throughout it. An enjoyable read. Five Star for Silver Star!
Date published: 2015-08-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read Story of 2 young girls, with a dysfunctional mother. Together they overcome several hardships and difficult situations.
Date published: 2015-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Silver Star I have read all of the author's books and I love how she writes about ordinary, simple people trying to get by in life. This book is about two girls, their mother and extended family. They have hardships but continue to see happiness in a simple way.
Date published: 2015-06-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from silver star I love everything I've read written by Jeannette Walls! I can't put her books down. She gives everyone inspiration to write their own story, as everyone has their own story... Life is not fair sometimes.
Date published: 2015-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Silver Star If you are 60+ and lived the hippy years, if you always regretted not being old enough to go to Woodstock, then you will love this book!
Date published: 2015-01-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good! I liked Jeannette Walls other 2 books and this one was a great read too. Would recommend this book to friends.
Date published: 2015-01-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good, easy read It was a light and easy read. I really like that the chapters were so short and the story was very easy to get into. While it's not one of my top 10 books of all time, I did enjoy it. I really appreciated the fact that we got to see the two characters grow and while we all assume that the older sister is and always will be the "mature" one it was nice to see the roles reverse during the story as the characters battled their demons. I felt like it reflected life more accurately this way. I also liked the way that the story ended because it reflects the battle between modern and this case Bean was able to accept and embrace a more traditional approach to solving a problem and she was able to appreciate the value that "old" and "simple ways" has to offer.
Date published: 2014-11-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good, but not as good as The Glass Castle Twelve-year-old Bean and her fifteen-year-old sister, Liz, are deserted by their mom who claims she needs to find herself. When the police start looking into the situation, the sisters decide to go and live with their uncle—unbeknownst to him—in a dilapidated mansion in Virginia. Bean embraces the adventure and starts to learn more about her father, while Liz begins to withdraw. Here’s a story about the bonds of family, and the pain of desertion and adolescence. Although I liked the novel, the situation and the mom reminded me too much of Walls’ The Glass Castle.
Date published: 2014-11-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good read I enjoyed this book and read it quite quickly. I do like the way the sister looked out for each other as their mother, the one adult in their life just could not get it together to do so. It was good that the girls had each other and other adults to talk and go to when they needed them. To me it was a definite coming of age book and the characters all had their flaws, strengths and needs. They all were looking for acceptance ....of themselves and to their loved ones
Date published: 2014-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read Loved it! I could barely put it down. If you liked The Glass House, you will love this book.
Date published: 2014-07-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from It was just okay I bought this book because I loved the Glass Castle. Obviously this is not a memoir so I was not expecting that, however I was disappointed in this book. I did like the characters but was left wanting more. I felt that some of the characters in the book were left undeveloped and those were the ones that I wanted to see more about. I found this the type of book that is an easy read but I was un involved and had a hard time finishing it. I did like the relationship between the sisters and their mother and would have preferred to see that storey evolve, the uncle relationship was awkward and the story line about the birds was not a realistic fit,I am sure that the author was making an attempt to create some metaphor in using the emu but I did not get it. I was left wanting more. I do feel that this author is an excellent descriptive author.
Date published: 2014-07-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great read Loved the characters! Disappointed that it ended.
Date published: 2014-07-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great read Loved the characters! Disappointed that it ended.
Date published: 2014-07-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lovely Story The characters are adorable and believable, and it is a great coming of age story.
Date published: 2014-05-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Silver Star Charming story,lotts of feelings called forward,a real good family tale.
Date published: 2014-03-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Silver Star Very easy read. Those two girls were unlucky on many fronts but so lucky to have each other. Loved it!
Date published: 2014-03-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Silver Star A great, easy read. Ms. Walls books always bring a feeling of nostalgia along with them. They tend to take me back in a good way. I only wish she had more novels written. I can't wait for her next one already!
Date published: 2014-01-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A good story... A pretty good and very easy read, however it doesn't come close to Walls' other books. My favourite by far would be The Glass Castle, followed by Half Broke Horses. This one I found a bit hokey for my liking...
Date published: 2014-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Silver star Awesome book, recommend it.
Date published: 2013-12-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A wonderful story This is a tug at your heart strings kinda story, but not in an overly mushy way. The main character is a girl you can't help but really like. You are rooting for her through the whole book. A fun and sometimes heartbreaking story. Made me realize I should think twice about the challenges people may be facing in life.
Date published: 2013-12-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from THE SILVER STAR Love this book, have read her other two novels and love them too. You cannot put them down, you always want to know what happens next. Jeanette has a way with story telling, can't wait for the next one. Enjoy this read.
Date published: 2013-10-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great story. Writing pulls you along Loved her first two books and this is a pleasant and inspiring follow up. Another great continuation of the themes of her non-fiction books. No matter what you've come from - it's within you to do your best and make great things happen in your life. Loved it.
Date published: 2013-10-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Two sisters against the odds Amazing what these two girls go through and the people - who they discover - who love and support them. And their mom! She's a mess! A quick read with short chapters that you'll find yourself saying, "ok, I'll read just one more chapter." Then 10 chapters later you can't put it down. Very heartwarming.
Date published: 2013-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well, I loved it Oh, I have to say right up front that I loved Jeanette Walls's latest book The Silver Star. Walls is a consummate raconteur, as evidenced by her best selling memoirs The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses. Although The Silver Star is fiction, I could see pieces that may have been gleaned from Walls' past as well. 1970. California. Twelve year old Bean Holladay and her fifteen year old sister Liz are used to their mother Charlotte leaving them on them on their own for a few days. She always stocks up on chicken pot pies - enough to last them 'til she returns. But this time is different - she leaves them with money to last a month - or two if they're careful. When the money runs out and she still hasn't returned, the girls decide to make their way to their mother's hometown - to a place they don't know and to relatives they've never met. I fell in love with Bean right from the get go. Her curiosity, her forthrightness, her loyalty to those she loves, her devotion to her sister Liz and her resilience all endeared her to me. To Kill a Mockingbird is referenced in the book and Scout was brought to mind when I thought of Bean. Liz is just as well drawn, but on a quieter scale. She's the one who ensures they go to school, that they have meals together, that protects Bean from realizing their plight is more desperate than she lets on. I had been racing through the book, I was so caught up in the girls' story. But, their arrival in Virginia had me putting the book down and stepping away. I just knew 'something' was going to happen and I wasn't sure if I wanted to know what that was yet, although I had a pretty good idea. I waited a few days and picked up the book again, when I knew I had time to read right through to the end. (Although I must admit - I had to sneak a peek a few chapters ahead, then go back) And yes, something does happen and it shapes and redefines Liz and Bean's lives as well as those of their new found family. Childhood is left behind in this coming of age story. But much is gained as well.... There isn't a problem distinguishing who is 'bad' and who is 'good' in this book. The extended family that Liz and Bean find are wonderfully warm and eccentric. While I was thinking good and bad, I sat and thought about Charlotte. I'm not sure she can be defined as one or the other. My opinion on her sits firmly in the middle. I'm curious as to what others thought about her. Walls touches on many familiar issues and themes in The Silver Star - mental illness, dysfunctional relationships, racial integration, bullying, poverty and so much more. And has woven them into yet another riveting read.
Date published: 2013-08-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a good believable story and characters- except it's not a memoir if you have read the infamous best seller the glass castle than you are in love with walls's writing. i absolutely loved her 2 books. now this new book is not a memoir as per TGC, but reading this you would have actually thought she was recollecting on her childhood. that is how realistic it is. the main character and narrator is 12 years old Bean, who you will be cheering for 100% of the way. Both neglected by parent, strong and dependent relationship with sibling, growing up, family, finding their true selves and how adults truly can be. all these themes are in TGC. You can tell Wells draw upon her own experiences to create this story, which makes it more realistic. Because Wells is an expert in these situations. Any way this had a great starting all the way to the last 20 pages. I thought Walls rushed the ending. It resolved everything and it was a happy ending, but it seemed what she used as the girls happy ending parallel with birds was awkward. Or maybe I didn't quite grasp the picture. Because I didn't love the ending and it didn't do too much for me I gave it a 4/5. Also was not as humorous as TGC. After TGC you cannot top that. Good book! a great summer read (or anytime read). You'll enjoy it.
Date published: 2013-08-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Adventurous Story! Story Description: Scribner|June 11, 2013|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-4516-6150-7 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 the girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and see 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, a 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. My Review: Twelve-year-old, Bean and fifteen-year-old, Liz live in Lost Lake, a little town in the Colorado Desert of Southern California where they’ve lived for the past four months. Their mother, Charlotte had been gone now for four days off in Los Angeles auditioning for a job as a back-up singer. The girls were used to being on their own as their mother often was away, her career took up a sizable amount of her time. Liz being the older of the two girls was in charge but Bean didn’t mind one bit as she was the type of girl who didn’t want to be babied. When their mother was away, all they ever ate was chicken pot pies. Bean didn’t mind because she loved the difference between the crusty crust on the outside and the warm goopy filling on the inside. And, Liz said if you had a glass of milk with one then you were getting all four food groups – meat, vegetables, grain, and dairy. Their mother finally arrived home telling the girl she met a man named, Mark Parker who told her she never got any jobs as a back-up singer because her voice was so distinctive that she was upstaging the stars. At age thirty-six she had never yet had a gig or made a recording, but Mark said he was going to “jump-start” her career. Since she’d never had a job, they lived on her inheritance but they were on a tight budget as the money was running low. However, it didn’t take long for, Bean to figure out that her mother way lying. She had made up the whole Mark Parker scenario and when Bean confronted her, Charlotte began yelling and spewing all sorts of hurtful comments, including telling, Bean that she was sorry she’d ever had her, that she was a mistake. She then picked up her purse and sped away in her car. The girls had been waiting for, Charlotte to return but she didn’t, instead they received a letter in the mail containing two-hundred dollars and a note telling them she needed “space” for herself. After two weeks money was running short so Liz did some babysitting and Bean delivered a newspaper. They continued to buy their chicken pot pies. Liz and Bean began to worry about CPS or some other agency getting involved and putting them in foster care. Charlotte had originally come from a small town in Virginia called, Byler where her father had owned a cotton mill. Their Mom’s brother, Uncle Tinsley still lived in Byler in a big old house called, Mayfield. One day, Bean arrived home from school to find cop cars outside the house and a cop looking through the window. She turned around and ran all the way to Liz’s high school and waited for her to come out. Liz decided they had better head to Virginia right away. She always carried their money in the lining of her shoe so the two girls ran off to the bus depot and bought two cross-country tickets. They were on their way and on the adventure of their lives. The Silver Star, pulled me in from the very first page and I didn’t quit until I’d turned the last. It was a fast-paced, easy to read story that kept my attention through every single word. I read the book in one sitting as I just couldn’t put it down. The only negative I have about this book is that it ended way too abruptly. I was reading along, turned the page to read more but there wasn’t anymore, it was the end of the story. I felt as though the book didn’t end properly. Other than that, I would highly recommend this book to anyone, Jeannette Walls certainly has a very creative imagination and writes an entertaining novel.
Date published: 2013-06-27

Read from the Book

The Silver Star CHAPTER ONE My sister saved my life when I was just a baby. Here’s what happened. After a fight with her family, Mom decided to leave home in the middle of the night, taking us with her. I was only a few months old, so Mom put me in the infant carrier. She set it on the roof of the car while she stashed some things in the trunk, then she settled Liz, who was three, in the backseat. Mom was going through a rough period at the time and had a lot on her mind—craziness, craziness, craziness, she’d say later. Completely forgetting that she’d left me on the roof, Mom drove off. Liz started shrieking my name and pointing up. At first Mom didn’t understand what Liz was saying, then she realized what she’d done and slammed on the brakes. The carrier slid forward onto the hood, but since I was strapped in, I was all right. In fact, I wasn’t even crying. In the years afterward, whenever Mom told the story, which she found hilarious and acted out in dramatic detail, she liked to say thank goodness Liz had her wits about her, otherwise that carrier would have flown right off and I’d have been a goner. Liz remembered the whole thing vividly, but she never thought it was funny. She had saved me. That was the kind of sister Liz was. And that was why, the night the whole mess started, I wasn’t worried that Mom had been gone for four days. I was more worried about the chicken potpies. I really hated it when the crust on our chicken potpies got burned, but the timer on the toaster oven was broken, and so that night I was staring into the oven’s little glass window because, once those pies began turning brown, you had to watch them the entire time. Liz was setting the table. Mom was off in Los Angeles, at some recording studio auditioning for a role as a backup singer. “Do you think she’ll get the job?” I asked Liz. “I have no idea,” Liz said. “I do. I have a good feeling about this one.” Mom had been going into the city a lot ever since we had moved to Lost Lake, a little town in the Colorado Desert of Southern California. Usually she was gone for only a night or two, never this long. We didn’t know exactly when she’d be back, and since the telephone had been turned off—Mom was arguing with the phone company about some long-distance calls she said she didn’t make—she had no way of calling us. Still, it didn’t seem like a big deal. Mom’s career had always taken up a sizeable chunk of her time. Even when we were younger, she’d have a sitter or a friend watch us while she flew off to some place like Nashville—so Liz and I were used to being on our own. Liz was in charge, since she was fifteen and I’d just turned twelve, but I wasn’t the kind of kid who needed to be babied. When Mom was away, all we ate were chicken potpies. I loved them and could eat them every night. Liz said that if you had a glass of milk with your chicken potpie, you were getting a dinner that included all four food groups—meat, vegetables, grain, and dairy—so it was the perfect diet. Plus, they were fun to eat. You each got your very own pie in the nifty little tinfoil pie plate, and you could do whatever you wanted with it. I liked to break up the crust and mush it together with the bits of carrots and peas and the yellow gunk. Liz thought mushing it all together was uncouth. It also made the crust soggy, and what she found so appealing about chicken potpies was the contrast between the crispy crust and the goopy filling. She preferred to leave the crust intact, cutting dainty wedges with each bite. Once the piecrusts had turned that wonderful golden brown, with the little ridged edges almost but not quite burned, I told Liz they were ready. She pulled them out of the toaster oven, and we sat down at the red Formica table. At dinnertime, when Mom was away, we liked to play games Liz made up. One she called Chew-and-Spew, where you waited until the other person had a mouthful of food or milk, then you tried to make her laugh. Liz pretty much always won, because it was sort of easy to make me laugh. In fact, sometimes I laughed so hard the milk came shooting out of my nose. Another game she made up was called the Lying Game. One person gave two statements, one true, the second a lie, and the other person got to ask five questions about the statements, then had to guess which one was the lie. Liz usually won the Lying Game, too, but as with Chew-and-Spew, it didn’t matter who won. What was fun was playing the game. That night I was excited because I had what I thought was an unbelievable stumper: A frog’s eyeballs go into its mouth when it’s swallowing or a frog’s blood is green. “That’s easy,” Liz said. “Green blood is the lie.” “I can’t believe you guessed it right away!” “We dissected frogs in biology.” I was still talking about how hilarious and bizarre it was that a frog used its eyeballs to swallow when Mom walked through the door carrying a white box tied with red string. “Key lime pie for my girls!” she announced, holding up the box. Her face was glowing and she had a giddy smile. “It’s a special occasion, because our lives are about to change.” As Mom cut the pie and passed the slices around, she told us that while she’d been at that recording studio, she’d met a man. He was a record producer named Mark Parker, and he’d told her that the reason she wasn’t landing gigs as a backup singer was that her voice was too distinctive and she was upstaging the lead singers. “Mark said I wasn’t cut out to play second fiddle to anyone,” Mom explained. He told her she had star quality, and that night he took her out to dinner and they talked about how to jump-start her career. “He’s so smart and funny,” Mom said. “You girls will adore him.” “Is he serious, or is he just a tire-kicker?” I asked. “Watch it, Bean,” Mom said. Bean’s not my real name, of course, but that’s what everyone calls me. Bean. It wasn’t my idea. When I was born, Mom named me Jean, but the first time Liz laid eyes on me, she called me Jean the Bean because I was teeny like a bean and because it rhymed—Liz was always rhyming—and then simply Bean because it was shorter. But sometimes she would go and make it longer, calling me the Beaner or Bean Head, maybe Clean Bean when I’d taken a bath, Lean Bean because I was so skinny, Queen Bean just to make me feel good, or Mean Bean if I was in a bad mood. Once, when I got food poisoning after eating a bowl of bad chili, she called me Green Bean, and then later, when I was hugging the toilet and feeling even worse, she called me Greener Beaner. Liz couldn’t resist playing with words. That was why she loved the name of our new town, Lost Lake. “Let’s go look for it,” she’d say, or “I wonder who lost it,” or “Maybe the lake should ask for directions.” We’d moved to Lost Lake from Pasadena four months ago, on New Year’s Day of 1970, because Mom said a change of scenery would give us a fresh start for the new decade. Lost Lake was a pretty neat place, in my opinion. Most of the people who lived there were Mexicans who kept chickens and goats in their yards, which was where they practically lived themselves, cooking on grills and dancing to the Mexican music that blared from their radios. Dogs and cats roamed the dusty streets, and irrigation canals at the edge of town carried water to the crop fields. No one looked sideways at you if you wore your big sister’s hand-me-downs or your mom drove an old brown Dart. Our neighbors lived in little adobe houses, but we rented a cinder-block bungalow. It was Mom’s idea to paint the cinder blocks turquoise blue and the door and windowsills tangerine orange. “Let’s not even pretend we want to blend in,” she said. Mom was a singer, songwriter, and actress. She had never actually been in a movie or made a record, but she hated to be called “aspiring,” and truth be told, she was a little older than the people described that way in the movie magazines she was always buying. Mom’s thirty-sixth birthday was coming up, and she complained that the singers who were getting all the attention, like Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell, were at least ten years younger than her. Even so, Mom always said her big break was right around the corner. Sometimes she got callbacks after auditions, but she usually came home shaking her head and saying the guys at the studio were just tire-kickers who wanted a second look at her cleavage. So while Mom had her career, it wasn’t one that produced much in the way of income—yet. Mostly we lived on Mom’s inheritance. It hadn’t been a ton of money to begin with, and by the time we moved to Lost Lake, we were on a fairly tight budget. When Mom wasn’t taking trips into L.A.—which were draining because the drive was nearly four hours in each direction—she tended to sleep late and spend the day writing songs, playing them on one of her four guitars. Her favorite, a 1961 Zemaitis, cost about a year’s rent. She also had a Gibson Southern Jumbo, a honey-colored Martin, and a Spanish guitar made from Brazilian rosewood. If she wasn’t practicing her songs, she was working on a musical play based on her life, about breaking away from her stifling Old South family, jettisoning her jerk of a husband and string of deadbeat boyfriends—together with all the tire-kickers who didn’t reach the boyfriend stage—and discovering her true voice in music. She called the play “Finding the Magic.” Mom always talked about how the secret to the creative process was finding the magic. That, she said, was what you needed to do in life as well. Find the magic. In musical harmony, in the rain on your face and the sun on your bare shoulders, in the morning dew that soaked your sneakers and the wildflowers you picked for free in the roadside ditch, in love at first sight and those sad memories of the one who got away. “Find the magic,” Mom always said. “And if you can’t find the magic,” she added, “then make the magic.” The three of us were magic, Mom liked to say. She assured us that no matter how famous she became, nothing would ever be more important to her than her two girls. We were a tribe of three, she said. Three was a perfect number, she’d go on. Think of it. The holy trinity, three musketeers, three kings of Orient, three little pigs, three stooges, three blind mice, three wishes, three strikes, three cheers, three’s a charm. The three of us were all we needed, Mom said. But that didn’t keep her from going out on dates with tire-kickers.

Editorial Reviews

“Walls weaves a story of triumph and justice.”