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Whistling in the Dark by Leslie Kagen


If you were a child living in Milwaukee in the 50's, you may easily identify with the main characters Whistling in the Dark. Troo and Sally are sisters living on the North side of Milwaukee in 1959. Two young girls have been murdered and Sally is sure she knows who the murderer is. Sally and Troo are pretty much on their own this summer as their mother is in the hospital, their stepdad is often drunk or bedding someone else and their older sister is usually with her boyfriend.

However that doesn't mean that they have been abandoned. Various neighbors and a friendly police officer keep an eye on them and update them on their mother's condition. Narrated by Sally, the older of the two, we hear about a summer of adventure and intrigue. Troo, though only 9, is the wild one, while Sally is the mothering one due to a promise she made to her dying father. We follow them on Vliet Street and North Avenue and visit Samson at the Washington Park Zoo.

I was 8 in 1959 and remember the carefree unscheduled days of summer, the 4th of July contests at the park and playing games at the playground. Actually trying to place these streets and other sites sometimes got in the way of the story or at least slowed it down for me. However the revelation of various family secrets and the pursuit of the murderer kept me on track. For those who learn to root for Troo and Sally, there is a sequel called Good Graces which takes place a year later--in the 60's.

Submitted by Lynn @ Center Street
Set in Milwaukee during the summer of 1959 and narrated by ten year old Sally O'Malley, Whistling in the Dark is a sentimental tale of family, trust and commitment.
Sally and her sister Troo spend their summer playing red light, green light with their friends on Vliet Street and visiting Sampson at the Milwaukee Zoo until a murderer starts preying upon the little girls in the neighborhood. The murders almost become second fiddle to the insights and imagination of the ten year old storyteller. The Milwaukee locale and references to landmarks like the Uptown Theater and Washington Park add to the nostalgic feel of this warm story.

Submitted by Dan @ Central

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 19, 2012 8:34 AM.

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