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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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June 18th, 2013
05:58 PM ET

The Lead Read: 'The Silver Star'

CNN "The Lead" is highlighting new books for summer vacation reading, the latest recommendation comes from author Jeannette Walls.

Millions of Americans already know the moving prose of Walls from her 2005 memoir, "The Glass Castle," which explored in heart-wrenching detail her tumultuous childhood of squalor and fantasy in a dysfunctional family.

The book became a huge success, selling more than four million copies. "Deadline" reports that Jennifer Lawrence is in talks to star in the movie version.

"The Glass Castle" continues to have an enviable run; seven years after its release the memoir is still a New York Times bestseller, currently ranked No. 7 on the paperback nonfiction list.

Walls's latest book is not a memoir but a novel.

"The Silver Star" is about a girl and her sister - "Bean" and Liz - abandoned by their mother, and fending for themselves in a small southern town during integration.

"I'm fascinated by people who think, sort of, outside the box, and Liz does," said Walls of her new book. "I'm riveted by these people who make things up ... and there are a lot of parallels between ‘Bean’ and her sister, and me and my siblings."

The mother in the book tells Bean that she has an ugly mouth that will take her far if she learns how to use it properly, a moment that Walls said was inspired by actual events.

Walls recently built her mother - who was homeless for years - a home. One time when Walls visited, it was a mess, and she began yelling at her mother. Walls said she immediately regretted her harshness and apologized.

"She said, 'Don't ever apologize for who you are.'  I said, 'But I got an ugly mouth on me.' And she said, 'That ugly mouth has gotten you far!' And I thought - what a great line! So I stole it," said Walls, with a laugh.

Walls said making the switch from memoir to nonfiction was intimidating.

"When you're writing non-fiction, you just have to ask, ‘well what really happened?’ With fiction you ask, ‘well what would happen?’ And it's the difference between navigating on the road, and navigating on an ocean," said Walls.

With non-fiction, "the truth is there, you got to dig for it. And with fiction it has to feel real, and you have to make everything credible," said Walls.

"I found it very challenging," said Walls. "But in the end I believe the two are very similar in that you're still trying to get to the emotional truths."

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