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News

Foothill to offer four-year degree: Foothill aims to launch dental hygiene degree in fall 2016

Foothill to offer four-year degree: Foothill aims to launch dental hygiene degree in fall 2016


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Students enrolled in Foothill College’s two-year dental hygiene program, above, can soon earn a four-year bachelor’s degree for approximately $10,000.

Foothill-De Anza Community College District Chancellor Linda M. Th...

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Schools

Freestyle hosts exhibition at Computer Science Museum

Freestyle hosts exhibition at Computer Science Museum


Traci Newell/Town Crier
Mountain View High junior and Freestyle Academy student Radika Gupta, right, works with a fellow student during a WebAudio course this month.

For three periods a day, a small subset of students from Los Altos and Mountain Vi...

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Community

Museum explores Stanford, Valley connection

Museum explores Stanford, Valley connection


Courtesy of Julie Rose
The Los Altos History Museum’s “Symbiotic Superstars” event drew a crowd including, from left, “The Lure & the Legends” creator Nan Geschke, Stanford President John L. Hennessy, historian Leslie Berlin and Adobe Systems c...

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Comment

Good compromise on PE exemptions: Editorial

While “Deflategate” captures the national sports headlines, the local issue of physical education class exemptions for freshmen seems a much worthier sports topic for discussion.

The Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Truste...

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Special Sections

Your Home Brief

Filoli hosts bird exhibition

Filoli kicks off the 2015 season of art exhibitions in its Visitor and Education Center with “The Birds of America: Audubon Collection,” a selection of prints from Filoli’s Permanent Collection, Feb. 10...

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Business

Wine & beer lounge coming to First Street

Wine & beer lounge coming to First Street


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The new wine and beer lounge Honcho heads to First Street, with a spring opening anticipated.

A cocktail lounge proposed for First Street has cleared its first hurdle – the Los Altos Planning and Transportation Comm...

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Books

"Fearless Genius" photos chart Silicon Valleys brain trust


Not every book needs pages and pages of words to tell a story – some do it through pictures.

“Fearless Genius: The Digital Revolution in Silicon Valley, 1985-2000” (Atria Books, 2014) by Doug Menuez features more than 100 photographs Menuez to...

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People

RUBY DOSHIM LAI

Ruby Doshim Lai was born on July 26, 1929 and passed away at home on January 10, 2015. A resident of Los Altos for over 50 years, Ruby is survived by her husband Bill; children Gwen, Tracy and Allyn; and grandchildren Kiyoshi and Misa.

Born on Mott ...

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Travel

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill

Cuban photographer slated to appear at Foothill


Courtesy of Raúl Cañibano
Cuban photographer Raúl Cañibano is set to appear at Foothill College tonight. His work – including the image “Series: Guajira’s Land, Viñales, 2007,” right – is on display at the KCI Gallery t...

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Stepping Out

'Betrayal' at Pear

'Betrayal' at Pear


Ray Renati/Special to the Town Crier
The cast of Pear Avenue Theatre’s “Betrayal” includes Maryssa Wanlass, from left, Fred Pitts and William J. Brown III.

The Pear Avenue Theatre presents Harold Pinter’s investigation of modern relationships, “...

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Magazine

Tracing history on foot: Hidden Villa’s long hike

Tracing history on foot: Hidden Villa’s long hike


Campers on Hidden Villa’s Sierra Backpacking Trip study historical photos to measure how the land has changed and alternate serving as student leaders who guide the route of their three-week trek.

Amid the high-tech camps and programs of a Bay Area ...

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"The Silver Star" illuminates resilience of young heroines


Author Jeannette Wells is no stranger to dysfunction.

Her best-selling memoir, “The Glass Castle” (Scribner, 2006), chronicles her hardscrabble childhood roaming from town to town in the desert before settling into a life of poverty in West Virginia. Her follow-up, “Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel” (Scribner, 2009), explores the adventurous life of her grandmother, an unconventional rodeo rider and bootlegger.

Walls’ latest novel, “The Silver Star” (Scribner, 2013), once again features resilient young girls who overcome trying circumstances. Liz, 15, and Jean (nicknamed “Bean”), 12, travel on their own from California to their mother’s hometown of Byler, Va., to stay with their elderly Uncle Tinsley. Their mother, Charlotte, has run off to Southern California for an indefinite time in a never-ending effort to pursue her dubious singing and acting career.

Life in 1970s Byler holds many advantages for the girls, but they run into a heap of trouble when they accept employment from the local mill boss and town bully, Jerry Maddox.

Two themes ring loud and clear in “The Silver Star”: the depths of Charlotte’s dysfunction and the injustices of the adult world.

It’s obvious from where Walls derives her inspiration: “The Glass Castle” documented her childhood with an alcoholic, delusional father and a free-spirited mother, both of whom proved candidates for the Worst Parent of the Year Award, Lifetime Achievement. But as in “The Glass Castle,” young heroines Bean and Liz deal with a large dose of injustice, and it is impressive to see how the girls handle themselves during the crisis.

Despite the larger, compelling themes, the real charm of “The Silver Star” lies in the descriptions and attitudes of and anecdotes about Byler’s residents. These are beautifully drawn characters: Bean has an aunt who works hard all day at the mill and comes home to cook and care for her physically disabled husband and four children, one of whom is probably mentally disabled. Yet this family has fun times, too, such as when they all go deep into the woods to pick chestnuts from the few remaining trees.

Liz and Bean, too, talk like real children and have a believable assortment of quirks and insecurities. In some respects, the book reads like a coming-of-age story as Liz comes to embrace a more unconventional path in life after adopting a pair of emus that belong to a neighbor: “She felt that she was sort of like an emu. … Both she and emus wanted to fly – they just didn’t have the wings they needed.”

In addition to rich characters, “The Silver Star” illuminates the political context of the day, with racial tensions in particular described in a nicely nuanced way. The book is set in 1970, when federal law forced schools in Byler to integrate. Tensions boil over at the first high school football game, and a huge fight erupts. Students later discuss the violence and other topics in class with surprising sensitivity and an encouraging give-and-take.

Fans of “The Glass Castle” will surely enjoy “The Silver Star.” I would highly recommend it as a selection for a women’s book club.

Leslie Ashmore is a longtime Mountain View resident who belongs to two book clubs.

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