If someone is whistling in the dark, they believe in a positive result, even though everybody else is sure it will not happen. Whistling in the dark is to try to keep up one's confidence in spite of fear and this is exactly what happens in the plot Whistling in the dark by Lesley Kagen through the perceptions of the protagonist, Sally O'Malley.
In 1959 in Milwaukee ten year oldSally O'Malley believes that a child killer is coming for her and her younger sister Troo. She believes she has no one to keep her or Troo safe as their father is dead, their mother is in the hospital, their stepfather is an alcoholic, and their disinterested older sister Nell is too involved with her boyfriend. Sally also feels that their neighbour police officer David Rasmussen killed JuniePiaskowski and Sara Heinemann because he has a picture of the former on his wall. Whistling in the Dark is an endearing tale about the "O'Malley sisters," Sally and Troo, 10 and 9 years of age, and their summer chalked full of turmoil and suspense. Their mother becomes gravely ill leaving them to be tended by a drunken stepfather, and a neighbourhood full of eccentric characters.
Synopsis of thenovel Whistling in the Dark
Whistling in the Dark's biggest triumph is Sally O’Malley’s voice. Kagen, the author, captures this 10 year old’s spirit beautifully. It is through her eyes that the events of 1959 unfold. Although the events surround the abductions and killings of young girls, a subject anyone would find hard to dive into, Sally O’Malley takes us through this uncomfortable journey in aninoffensive way. Sally thinks she knows who the killer is and also believes that she is next. She however finds it very hard to convince anyone else. Through her wilful need to unearth the truth, many other truths are exhumed, making this story not so much about the horrific killings but about a child who discovers herself.
This was Kagen's first novel and I applaud her. Kagen found a voice, agood voice and stuck to it without fault. Whistling in the Dark's success really depends if the reader is willing to listen to this voice as a mother would listen to her child, because if you enter on a high horse you may get bucked up the rear end. As she had vowed to her daddy on his deathbed, she will protect Troo at all costs. If that means dying the frightened courageous Sally knows a promiseis a promise. She and Troo begin their own brand of preadolescent investigation with the objective to prevent David from killing them. Sally will learn the truth, but it is a bigger shocker than if the cop was a homicidal paedophile.
Everywhere I looked; this book got 4 and 5 star reviews. For some reason it just did not connect with me the way it apparently has with other readers. Sally is alikeable character, full of innocence and the author does a good job of making the young girl point of view believable. The problem for me I think is that younger sister Troo was not really likeable at all and even though the book states they are nine and ten, the O'Malley sisters seemed older to me. For instance, Troo takes up smoking in the book (at age 9?). I remember when I tried cigarettes (forthe first and last time) I was in primary school, not 3rd or 4th grade. Also I felt a bit overwhelmed by all the characters. There were so many it was hard to get to know any of them except for the main two which I think detracted from the story. By time the murderer was revealed, I was having trouble remembering anything about him.
I was also a little perplexed by how little Sally and Troo seemedto worry about their mother being absent and not being bothered when they could not see her. Most children would be pretty distraught if their mother was absent for a long period of time. The story was redeemed a little bit with the subplot. Sally finds that an important person in her life is not who she thought he was. I will say that this novel is outside my usual genre and given the fact...
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