"All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality -- the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape."
--Author Christopher Benson



Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen

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 bookGood 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.

Your Escape With A Good Book Travel Agent



Rochelle Staab said...

Lori, I'm so thrilled you liked Whistling! Another Wisconsin gal done good. Good Graces is equally charming, too.

When I was a little girl, Sampson lived at the old zoo in Washington Park, less than a mile from our house. I would walk to visit him during summer. We used to ice skate on the lagoon in that park. Great memories.

katsrus said...

I remember Samson the gorilla. I loved going to the Milwaukee zoo. Thanks for the review. Think I will give this book a try. I really love finding authors whom are from WI.
Sue B

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

We went to see Sampson every summer! He was a legend! I use to have a wax Sampson from those lovely little wax machines in the zoo. I picked up this book a couple of years ago when I was killing time in Barnes and Noble. It was recommended as a Wisconsin author so I nabbed it and then sadly it went unread. I am going to go dig it out. Thanks for the great review!

Nise' said...

Sounds like my kind of book. I've read this author and enjoyed her style of writing. Thanks for the recommendation.