Whistling In The Dark

Book: Whistling In The Dark: A Novel by Lesley Kagen

Pages: 320 (Paperback)

A Review: Whistling In The Dark is about Troo and Sally O’Malley, and their summer in Milwaukee in 1959.  Their mother is in the hospital, and are left in the care of their older sister Nell and their stepfather Hall.  The 2 girls, 9 year-old Troo and 10 year-old Sally, are left to their own devices as their sister cares more about her boyfriend and their stepfather turns to drinking.  While all of this is going on a murderer/child molester is on the loose.

It was just okay for me.  I found that Troo and Sally were very unbelievable as kids who are 9 and 10 respectively.  For most of the book, I completely forgot how old they really were.  They acted far older than the ages mentioned in the book- I kept thinking Sally was in her teens as opposed to being 10.  As for the other characters…well, the entire book for that matter…I found it all too unbelievable.  On one street, in 1959, you have a molester/murderer, a gay priest, teenage pregnancy, and 2 neglected children?  It is possible, but I don’t know…it’s like Kagen just threw all these random people onto one street.  The kids just didn’t seem like kids.  They seemed more like adults in kids bodies.  It was hard to believe that all of the secrets and events happened on one street in the span of 3 months or so.

And how did no one notice 2 girls who were running wild on the streets?  The way Sally narrated it, Troo and herself were rarely at home, even at night.  They seemed to stay with neighbors more often than not.  And 2 girls, who are 9 and 10 visited their mother once or twice in the 3 months or so their mom was in the hospital.  At the end of it, I wondered what the whole point of the novel was.  It moved too slow, and had too many characters and issues crammed into one book.

Another issue I had was all of the characters she introduced.  I’ll be honest, the murderer on the loose isn’t who I thought it was, and I didn’t see it coming.  So in that sense, it really was a mystery.  But it was hard to keep up with the characters, who weren’t really developed, except on a very superficial level.  I couldn’t relate to the other characters, and the number of times their race/ethnicity came up was annoying.

And the ending!  Everything wrapped up a little too nicely for my tastes.  It started to pick up a little at the end, but at that point, it was too late.  I just didn’t care what happened to the characters in the end.

Rating: The only reason why I am giving this book a 2 out of 5 is because a few of the characters could have been interesting had there been less of them.  And some of the issues that popped up could have been interesting and had more of an impact if there hadn’t been so many of them.

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