I have read so many books about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, that as I read Whistling Women by Kelly Romo, I kept wanting to place it in Chicago. Not because its setting is unclear (The 1935 World’s Fair) or because the location wasn’t well-established (San Francisco) but because the characters she has created are so real, relatable and well-defined that they feel like they could be in any place, and in any time.
Addie Bates ran from her own bad decisions and landed in a nudist colony where she found a family, and a shelter from her past.
Her niece, fifteen-year-old Rumor, is completely sure of the world and her own place in it, so when she begins to realize it isn’t what she thought and the world starts to change beneath her feet, she is determined to make sense of it.
As the story alternates between these two women in the beginning of the novel the reader is a bit unsteady themselves. Eventually, though, as secrets are revealed to reader and characters alike, it all begins to make sense, eventually coming together in a heartbreakingly beautiful climax.
There were places where this novel could have been sped up. The tension and excitement, so much of it crammed into the final few chapters, gets lost in pages of Rumor’s emotions and struggle. I would love to have spent more time with Addie, and a little less with Rumor perhaps. But the character development alone makes this debut novelist one I’ll be keeping an eye on in the future!
"Whistling Women" will be released on November 17th by Lake Union Publishing.
If you like these books you may like Kelly Romo:
|Plainsong by Kent Haruf (and the rest of this trilogy)|
|The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling|