Arts and Culture
9:28 am
Fri June 6, 2014

Jeannette Walls explores familiar themes in new novel

Author Jeannette Walls wrote about celebrities for New York Magazine and MSNBC for more than a decade before she turned the tables on herself and wrote a deeply personal memoir called The Glass Castle.

A New York Times best-seller for more than five years, The Glass Castle is about Walls, her impoverished childhood, and the relationship between mental illness and creativity.

Walls’ newest book, The Silver Star (2013), takes place in the 1970’s. It’s told from the point of view of an 11 year-old girl nicknamed Bean and her teenage sister. The girls leave their essentially absent mother in California to travel to West Virginia, where their Mother grew up.

While it’s her first novel,  Walls says it still has many elements of her own story -- and those of others.

“There’s so much in the silver star that I borrowed or stole from real life,” she says.

On her book tour, Walls would get what she calls gifts from her readers, who trusted her with their stories because she came out about her own dysfunctional family.

“One of the things that came up time and time again were about siblings that had to take responsibility because the adults in their lives didn’t,” she said. “And a pattern that I kept seeing emerge was the older sibling would like an adult so that the younger one can be a kid.”

At first glance, The Silver Star is intensely grim, but it’s also a heartwarming tale of survival, a sweetly funny story that’s engaging and well-told.

Jeannette Walls will read from, and sign copies of, The Silver Star tonight at 7 at Malaprop’s Bookstore in downtown Asheivlle.