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Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen
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Whistling in the Dark

by Lesley Kagen

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    Die hellen Tage by Zsuzsa Bánk (cometahalley)
    cometahalley: L'infanzia, i sogni. il candore e l'innocenza.
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Whistling in the Dark is the story of sisters Sally and Troo O'Malley and the revelatory summer that changes their lives forever. Sally is ten years old in 1959, recently moved to Milwaukee with her mom and no-good stepfather after the death of her father in a car accident that left her uncle severely brain-damaged. During the summer of '59, she and her younger sister's lives are thrown into turmoil when her mother reports to the hospital for gallbladder surgery that ends in a staph infection that keeps her hospitalized, in fear for her life, for much of the summer. With their mother hospitalized, their stepfather on a more or less permanent drunken bender, and their older sister too occupied with her boyfriend and beauty school to care, Troo and Sally are free to run wild in their Vliet Street neighborhood. To add to the perils of the summer, a murderer and molester is still at large, one who has already killed two girls. Sally, known for her overactive imagination, is sure she knows who the killer is and she's also sure of one other thing - he's coming for her next.

Even though it sounds like one of those books that is an unrelenting downer, there is so much to love about Whistling in the Dark. First, there's Sally, whose precocious, over-imaginative narration staves off the darkness that threatens to overtake the book. Sally's strong in a way she doesn't realize yet, and her narration, carefully pitched between her laughable imaginings and the true seriousness of the situation, is really what makes this book live and breathe. Then there's Troo, Sally's little sister, who seems both younger and older than her years, a tonic to Sally's overactive imagination, fiercely competitive, and an engine behind the clever ideas that make the pair's summer go. Finally, there's the pair's Vliet Street Milwaukee neighborhood in summer, a place that Kagen brings to life with an abundance of entirely three-dimensional supporting characters as well as the endless days on the playground, staying up late, and competing in sack races and bike-decorating contests at the community's Fourth of July block party that make a kid's summer days glow in memory.

Whistling in the Dark is a book that defies categorization or generalization. Looking at it from one direction, it's a thriller. There's a murderer at large lurking in an otherwise picturesque neighborhood, and Sally's overactive imagination constantly working to conjure up who it might be gives the book an urgency. It's not just a thriller, though, it's a story about sisterhood, one about strength, trust, and loyalty. It's a book that provokes nostalgia with its characters that become the stuff of hometown legends. Most of all, though, it's a coming-of-age story for Sally who learns that sometimes clinging to that childhood "overactive" imagination can be a saving grace to us all. ( )
  yourotherleft | Sep 1, 2014 |
I found this book to be slow at times but enjoyed it none the less. It was about two sisiters im Milwaukee who have been left to fend for themselves when ther mother gets sick and is in the hospital. There is mystery and intrigue. ( )
  teeth | Aug 10, 2013 |
I don't really remember reading this book. I was in the eigth grade but despite the depressing story I really liked it. ( )
  gagirl101 | Nov 17, 2011 |
So once again I bought a book on a recommend. You know one of those recommends that state, “hey if you like this…well you’ll like this too.”
And in the beginning, let me tell you, it was love at first read.
I was telling people I knew, that I was reading the scariest book I’ve ever read. Scariest. And I was until, you know the near end.
The near END when I felt betrayed.
This writer, absolutely perfect. I was right beside these children. The main character, still love her despite the ending. Love the kid.
The ending, oh the ending. I mean we had a perfect set up here, a couple kids whom no one really paid any attention to. Sure the neighborhood tried to help out but we had a situation where a child new and understood evil, pure evil was out and nobody believed her. And with good reason in the end because the kid was dead wrong several times.
You know as I sit and write this I guess that is my major beef. The author betrayed the character, a character that was near perfect if not perfect in every way. I feel a sense of outrage, let the kid be RIGHT.
But in the last quarter of the story, the story line is taken away from this very capable young lady and any loose strings that needed to be tidied up were done so – and there were plenty of loose strings to be taken care of – oh the pity of it.
Would I recommend the book – I don’t know. I care about my reading friends. The novel was near perfection for most of the way and then I felt it was pushed for an ending. Was someone out there pushing that writer to finish. I’d like to know. It would be like the bill collector during the writing of Kubla Khan – (and frankly I’m no fan of the romantic poets but that was really too bad)
Okay, yes, I’d recommend it for the sole purpose in know, was anyone else as depressed as me in the end? ( )
  skwoodiwis | Sep 21, 2011 |
I really loved this book. The story of two sisters during one summer in Milwaukee, their mother has been hospitalized, their older sister is more interested in her boyfriend then in caring for them, and their stepfather has taken up drinking and womanizing in a big way. The two girls are pretty much left to their own devices and are running free. Unfortunately a murderer is also running free in the neighbourhood.

The story is told by Sally, the elder sister, who at 10 is a imaginative girl whose main purpose in life is to look after her younger sister, Troo. Sally is sure that she knows who the murderer is and she also is pretty sure that she is to be the next victim.

Set in the late fifties with lots of cultural references that I certainly enjoyed, this book brought back many memories of growing up in a close neighbourhood where the kids were running in and out of each others houses and playing group games of Red Light, Green Light and Tag. I found both Sally and Troo to be memorable heroines, both funny and wise beyond their years. I will long remember the fabulous O’Malley Sisters!

Whistling In the Dark is the first book I have read by Lesley Kagen, and I certainly will be on the lookout for more by this author. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Oct 11, 2010 |
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I never heard exactly who it was that found Sara Heinemann's dead body over at the lagoon.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451221230, Paperback)

It was the summer on Vliet Street when we all started locking our doors...

Sally O'Malley made a promise to her daddy before he died. She swore she'd look after her sister, Troo. Keep her safe. But like her Granny always said-actions speak louder than words. Now, during the summer of 1959, the girls' mother is hospitalized, their stepfather has abandoned them for a six pack, and their big sister, Nell, is too busy making out with her boyfriend to notice that Sally and Troo are on the Loose. And so is a murderer and molester.

Highly imaginative Sally is pretty sure of two things. Who the killer is. And that she's next on his list. Now she has no choice but to protect herself and Troo as best she can, relying on her own courage and the kindness of her neighbors.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:39 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

During the summer of 1959, ten-year-old Sally O'Malley fears that a child predator, who has already murdered two girls, will target her or her little sister, Troo, next. Sally's mom is in the hospital, while her big sister, Nell, is distracted by love and her stepdad, Hall, by the bottle.… (more)

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