As I said before, Glass Castle is one of my favorite books and I was excited to see what Jeanette Walls could do with fiction. Silver Star is the story of 2 sisters, abandoned by their mentally unstable mother in California. They travel across country to a small Virginia town where her mother grew up and move in with their estranged widowed uncle.
I loved the book (not as much as Glass Castle) and give it a solid 4 stars. My only complaint is that I really wanted another chapter, the girls faced some pretty awful stuff and I just wanted to know that they were going to be OK.
The novel takes place in 1970 against the back drop of forced school integration. I lived in Alabama during the1970's. I was only 7 or 8 years old and should really ask my parents about this, but here's what I remember:
As in most places, school boundaries were drawn geographically and everyone went to their assign school. As blacks and whites still tended to live in their own neighborhoods and parts of town, schools were still largely segregated, especially elementary schools. Someone decided that since integration wasn't going to happen naturally, they would start busing black students that wanted to the mostly white school. Our class got one of these students, but he left before the end of the school year. I wish I could say that I was some sort of Jr Civil Rights activist or that I at least tried to be his friend. The truth is, I didn't interact with him much- not because of his skin color, but because he was a boy.
There was a black family that lived up the street, and their oldest daughter sometimes babysat us. I said hi to her younger sister (still several years older than me) in the lunch room one day, which appalled a girl in my class. She said everyone needs to just remember their place and that as a white girl, I shouldn't say hi to her. I don't remember what, if anything I said to her, but I do remember feeling sick to my stomach with wrongness. We moved shortly after my ninth birthday and I spent the rest of my childhood on very racially diverse army bases.
I watched the Blind Side a few months ago with my boys. After we were finished, my 8-year old said, "That happened in the olden days, when there was still racism". I know that sadly racism still exists, but it made me really happy that my kids have grown up in fairly diverse communities and thought racism was a thing of the past. Hopefully, by the time he has an eight-year old it really will be.
Sorry, to go off on a tangent, but those were my thoughts as I was reading the book.