It is 1970. 'Bean' Holladay is twelve and her sister Liz fifteen when their artistic mother Charlotte, a woman who 'flees every place she's ever lived at the first sign of trouble', takes off to 'find herself'. She leaves the girls enough money for food to last a month or two. But when Bean gets home from school one day and sees a police car ...
It is 1970. 'Bean' Holladay is twelve and her sister Liz fifteen when their artistic mother Charlotte, a woman who 'flees every place she's ever lived at the first sign of trouble', takes off to 'find herself'. She leaves the girls enough money for food to last a month or two. But when Bean gets home from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz board a bus from California to Virginia, where their widowed Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying antebellum mansion that has been in the family for generations. An impetuous optimist, Bean discovers who her father was and learns many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Money is tight, so Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Madox, foreman of the mill in town, a big man who bullies workers, tenants and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister, inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, non-conformist. But when school starts in the autumn, it is Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens between Liz and Maddox...
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Publishers Weekly, 2013-04-15 Readers of Walls's bestselling memoir The Glass Castle may find this new novel too familiar to be entirely satisfying. When 12-year-old Bean Holladay and her 15-year-old sister, Liz, are abandoned by their narcissistic, unstable mother, Charlotte, they make their way to Byler, Va., Charlotte's hometown, in search of an uncle they barely know. In Byler, Bean and Liz find not only their uncle, Tinsley, but also a community eager to see how Charlotte's girls have turned out. The sisters attract particular attention from Jerry Maddox, foreman at the town mill, which the Holladays owned and operated in better times. Walls understands in her bones how growing up with a mentally ill parent can give children extraordinary skills and resilience but also leave them without any sense of the boundary between ordinary behavior and abuse. It's clear from the beginning that Bean and Liz's relationship with Maddox won't end well, and their newfound family may not be able to sustain the damage. When Bean reads To Kill a Mockingbird in school, she seems like a long-lost cousin to Scout, and to the young Walls herself. The other characters are too often thinly conceived, but she makes for a strong and spunky protagonist. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, WME Entertainment. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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