To this day, my sister insists it was nothing more than the unrelenting heat that drove us to do what we did that summer, but that’s just Troo yanking my chain the way she always has. Deep down, she knows as well as I do that it wasn’t anything as mundane as the weather. It was the hand of the Almighty that shoved us off the straight and narrow path…
Whistling in the Dark—a national bestseller—captivated readers with the story of ten-year-old Sally O’Malley and her sister, Troo, during Milwaukee’s summer of 1959. Now it’s one year later, and Sally, who made a deathbed promise to her daddy to keep Troo safe, is having a hard time honoring her vow. Her sister is growing increasingly rebellious amid a string of home burglaries, the escape from reform school of a nemesis, and the mysterious disappearance of an orphan—events that have the entire neighborhood on edge. And in that tense, hot summer, Sally will have to ground her flights of imagination, and barter her waning innocence, in order to sort the truths from the lies to protect her sister and herself.
That summer earned itself a place in the record books that’s never been beat. The hardware store sold out of fans by mid- June and the Montgomery twins fainted at the Fourth of July parade. By the time August showed up, we couldn’t wait to send it packing.
To this day, my sister insists it was nothing more than the unrelenting heat that drove us to do what we did that summer, but that’s just Troo yanking my chain the way she always has. Deep down, she knows as well as I do that it wasn’t anything as mundane as the weather. It was the hand of the Almighty that shoved us off the straight and narrow path.
Whenever the old neighborhood pals get together, if it’s a particularly sticky evening, the way they all were back then, memories get tickled up. Sitting out on one of our back porches in the dwindling light, somebody will inevitably bring up the mysterious disappearance of one of our own that long ago summer. Do you think he was murdered? What about kidnapping? He could have just taken off.
Trying to figure out what happened to him has become as much fun for our friends as remembering our games of red light, green light and penny candy from the Five and Dime.
But for the O’Malley sisters, the fate of that certain someone is no more mysterious than the way he broke my front tooth that sultry August night. The two of us know exactly where that devil in the details has been for the past fi fty years. He’s where we buried him the sweltering summer Troo was ten and I was eleven.
The summer of ’60."In Good Graces the mix of light and dark is rendered with honesty, wit and savvy."
-The Morton Report
"Good Graces deftly dwells in '60's Milwaukee. Through her preteen narrator, Sally O'Malley, she (Kagen) evokes the joys, sorrows and complexities of growing up..."
-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Spend happy hours following the O'Malley sisters through the sweltering summer of 1960 on Milwaukee's West Side. This humorous, passionate novel of childhood is full of evocative local detail and the lives of wild, smart children."
"Moving, funny, and full of unexpected delights, this is one sequel that just might be even better than the original gem. Kagen crafts a gorgeous pageturner about love, loss and loyalty, all told in the sparkling voices of two extraordinary sisters."
-Caroline Leavitt, New York Times Bestselling author of Pictures of You
"A beautifully woven story...You will weep for and cheer on the O'Malley sisters...[and] immediately miss them once the last page is turned."
-Heather Gudenkauf, author of These Things Hidden and The Weight of Silence
Praise for New York Times bestseller Whistling in the Dark, winner of the Midwest Choice Award for fiction and named a "Hot Summer Read" by the Chicago Tribune:
"Bittersweet and beautifully rendered, Whistling in the Dark, is the story of two young sisters and a summer jam-packed with disillusionment and discovery. These girls triumph. So does Kagen. Don't miss it."
-Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants and Ape House
"A sophisticated charmer of a first novel. Sally's voice...is innocently wise and ultimately captivating."
-The Milwaukee Journal
"Kagen sharply depicts the vulnerability of children of any era. Sally...makes an enchanting protagonist."
"The plot is a humdinger...a certifiable grade-A summer read."
-The Capital Times
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