The one word I can use to describe the plot and story line of this book is innocence. The innocence, yet maturity of the two main characters is absolutely amazing and with it, Lesley Kagen created a beautiful, tragic, yet hopeful book.
Whistling in the Dark is written as both a coming of age book and somewhat of a mystery/thriller. Sally and Troo O'Malley are sisters in the late 1950's. Their father is dead, though his place has been taken by Hall, the girl's alcoholic, mean stepfather. Their mother becomes very ill and has to spend most of the summer in the hospital, leaving the girl's in the care of their boy obsessed older sister Nell and Hall. Also during this hot summer, other girl's around the neighborhood are continually disappearing and ending up dead. Sally is convinced she knows who the murderer is and is also convinced she is his next victim.
Sally spends her summer trying to protect herself and her incredibly precocious younger sister. The girl's both believe their mother is dying in the hospital, yet they seem somewhat alright with that concept. They know loss and they know it keeps happening to them and they learn to accept that life will never be easy for either of them. Their innocence allows them to keep up with typical summer activities, such as day camp at the playground and enjoying long games of Red Light Green Light with the neighborhood kids. The girls are even content, amidst the tragedies of the summer.
I really enjoyed this novel, though at some parts I was incredulous at how nonchalant the girls were concerning their mother's illness and possibly impending death. However, as I continued through the story, I learned that they had no choice but to detach themselves from the awful situation in order to continue functioning as young girls. This was a captivating read and one that will sweep you up until the very last page. I very much recommend it!