Whistling In The Dark by Lesley Kagen

Lesley Kagen is going to be Guest Posting Here on May 4. The Paperback Version of  her latest book, Good Graces, is being released on May 1. Since Lesley is a Wisconsin Author I am going to continue to follow I have moved this post over from the original Dollycas’s Thoughts. This review was posted there September 20, 2011.

Whistling In the Dark
New American Library
A Division of the Penguin Group
Published 2007

This book was recommended to me by author Rochelle Staab when we “met” discussing her new book coming out in November, Who Do, Voodoo?.  I was thrilled to learn she was from Wisconsin and she told me I had to read this book and that I would want to read it’s sequel too, Good Graces. Thank you Rochelle!!!!

Whistling In the Dark takes place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1959, and is written from 10 year old Sally O’Malley’s point of view. She has a little sister Troo, and a older sister Nell, her father was killed in a car accident, her mother then married Hall who is not much of a step father.

Her mother ends up spending most of the summer in the hospital due to complications of surgery. Nell is caught up with her boyfriend and Hall is busy with another woman or has drown himself in liquor or both.  The two little girls are left on their own but it is back in the time when your neighbors knew everybody and everybody watched out for each other. Sally and Troo were fed and taken care of my the good folks of the neighborhood.

The area is living in fear of a child molester and murderer.  Two little girls have gone missing and one was found dead in the park where Sally and Troo play everyday. Sally is sure she will be the next victim. She even believes she knows who the killer is and will do everything she can to keep her and her sister safe.
My Thoughts
There are so many reasons I loved this book.  First Sally has a very active imagination just like I was told I had while growing up so it was so easy to relate to her.  I wasn’t born until 1961 but references in this book were true to what I remember or had been told as I grew up. The trips to the zoo brought back such memories. There must to be very few people from Southern Wisconsin that do not remember going to see the Gorilla named Sampson at the Milwaukee Public Zoo!
“The Ape That Made Milwaukee Famous”
Beyond the memories this story churned up, it is marvelously written.  Funny, surprising, and full of charm yet tragic in places. Sally’s innocence will have you laughing one minute and wiping a tear from your eye the next. All the characters were wonderfully created. 

The story reminds us of simpler times, when kids played outside until the streetlights came on and the neighbors watched out and took care of your skinned knees or brought out a plate of cookies to share. I understand completely why it was a national bestseller. This book is definitely a must read, plus a sequel to the book Good Graces that came out in September and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  I am anxious to read everything by this author.

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