Jeannette Walls was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and grew up in the southwest and Welch, Virginia. She graduated from Barnard College and was a journalist in New York City for twenty years. She now lives in rural Virginia with her husband, the writer John Taylor.
Readers of the best-selling memoir The Glass Castle will be familiar with Charlotte Holladay's parenting style in Walls's new novel. Charlotte, a narcissistic single mother of two, is an aspiring actress and singer with grandiose dreams who deeply loves her daughters but is incapable of providing them with a stable home. In summer 1970, after their mother abandons them for weeks, as she puts it, "to make some time and space for myself," 12-year-old narrator Bean and her 15-year-old sister Liz embark on a cross-country bus trip to seek out the relatives they've never met. Their Uncle Tinsley, an eccentric bachelor, reluctantly takes the girls into their mother's old family home in Byler, VA, a small, stratified Southern town on the cusp of integration. Older sister Liz is a lover of puns and fan of author Lewis Carroll, and her charming wordplay enlivens Bean's narration. VERDICT This engrossing story is told with the warmth and humor that will appeal to fans of Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees. Readers will find themselves rooting for the spunky heroine and her smart, offbeat sister as they persevere in the face of multiple hardships. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/13.]-Lauren Gilbert, Sachem P.L., Holbrook, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.