Monday, November 5, 2007

Whistling In the Dark

While it was certainly entertaining and an easy read, in the end Whistling In the Dark by Lesley Kagen was a forgettable novel. This would be a good choice for summer reading. You won't feel as if you have wasted your time on it, but you won't be filled with awe either. It was originally published in 2007 and my paperback copy is 297 pages. I picked this book up just before moving this summer. It would be a good moving-half-way-across-the-country book too. You wouldn't feel bad if you lost it along the way.

One thing that annoyed me was the fact that the writing was uneven and the book needed more, careful editing. For example, when considering the writing, there was a "coulda" and a "musta" within a few paragraphs of each other in the beginning of chapter 2 and that was it... for the whole book. Either write the character's dialect how you hear them speak or don't. The ages of characters themselves were clearly stated, but in most of the book you felt very much like Ms. Kagen forgot the ages she gave the girls because the middle child, Sally, who is telling the story about this summer often came across as the youngest. This could be because she based the character Sally on her younger sister. It seems she forgot this fact through large portions of her book.

"The loss of innocence can be as dramatic as the loss of a parent or the discovery that what's perceived to be truth can actually be a big fat lie, as shown in Kagen's compassionate debut, a coming-of-age thriller set in Milwaukee during the summer of 1959. Ten-year-old Sally O'Malley fears that a child predator who has already murdered two girls, Junie Piaskowski and Sara Heinemann, 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, so who can save her if the killer is, as she suspects, her neighbor, David Rasmussen, a popular cop who has a photo of Junie hanging in his house? Though the mystery elements are sketchy, Kagen sharply depicts the vulnerability of children of any era. Sally, "a girl who wouldn't break a promise even if her life depended on it," makes an enchanting protagonist. (May)
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Whistling In the Dark is worth a C... it's average. While I won't highly recommend it, there are times when you need an interesting but forgettable book. My copy has a note on it that it was selected by the NAL, New American Library:
"...NAL Accent novels touch on subjects close to a woman's heart, from friendship to family to finding our place in the world. The Conversation Guides included in each book are intended to enrich the individual reading experience, as well as encourage us to explore these topics together - because books, and life, are meant for sharing."
That little sentimental note alone should have given me a clue that it might not be the best book of 2007.

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