This debut novel by Lesley Kagen tells the story of the O'Malley sisters, Sally and Troo, short for Trooper. It is set in Milwakee in 1959 and is a kind of coming of age story.
The girls father died after being in an automobile accident. Before he died, he asked Sally to watch over Troo, her younger sister. Sally promised him she would. Not long after his death, their mother married Hall, not because she loved him but because she needed his help supporting the girls. They left their farm in the country and settled into a rented apartment on Vliet Street.
It wasn't long before things began to go dreadfully wrong. The girls' mother had to go to the hospital to have her gallbladder removed. Instead of returning home in a week, she developed an infection and was on the verge of dying.
Hall liked his drink and did nothing to ensure the girls were taken care of once that Helen went to the hospital. Their older sister, Nell, was infatuated with Eddy and spent all her time with him and neglected her sisters, sometimes not coming home. The girls were basically left on their own. They found unique ways to care for themselves.
Things became worse. The year before a young girl had been found murdered. The summer of 1959, another girl went missing and then the girl from next door disappeared. Sally had a vivid imagination and she figured she knew who the killer/molester was. She also knew that she was next on his list of girls to molest and murder.
Secrets both good and bad abound in this debut novel by Lesley Kagen. Will Sally become a victim of the killer/molester? What family secret will be uncovered that will change the girls' lives forever? So many questions...so many secrets...some surprising answers. This novel is a great read and one that every girl that grew up in the 50s and 60s in a small community can relate to. The book is a selection of the Readers Club of America. It's one you won't want to miss.
Ms. Kagen's pen shines in this bittersweet and intriguing novel. There is a conversation guide in the back and a list of questions about the novel that provides food for thought. Ms. Kagen has really outdone herself with this one. I picked it up and had a difficult time putting it down. I read it within 48 hours of opening the cover for the first time. It reminded me a great deal of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. I recommend this book to anyone who likes to be swept back in time to another era...an era I grew up in and one that I loved revisiting.
Thank you, Lesley Kagen for sending me a signed copy for review. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. This is the best book I've read in years. ~Blessings, Mary~