In Whistling Women by Kelly Romo, we are introduced to the lengths that people will go to when in trouble or need. When Addie Bates was young, she and her sister were close, as close as anyone could be. Yet when she is forced to flee that life she has no option of direction. She finds herself a part of the Sleepy valley Nudist Colony where she has been able to hide from a crime that has haunted her for 15 years. Over the years she tried to reach out to her sister but found that door closed to her.
So when the residents of the Colony decide to put together a reunion and exhibit at the 1935 world’s fair in San Diego, she is thrilled with the possibility of finally meeting up with her estranged sister. She knows that forgiveness may not be possible, but she has to try. It is time to move on from her life in the colony, but can she find her way without the forgiveness of her beloved sister?
In the city her sister refuses to meet with her, but her one of her nieces has somehow tracked her down and is determined to discover what has torn the family apart. She will not rest until she finds a way to fix whatever created the rift.
Romo creates a story of loss and need that takes you to the past and the life of women in a way that is both enlightening and distressing. Her characters are strong with determination, and you are drawn in a way into the very tragedy. She gives us a sample of the sacrifices that families are willing to undertake to protect each other, as well as the consequences of acting impulsively.
She sets this all in the late 20’s and early 30’s with such style and understanding of the time that you feel as though you have traveled into the past. The treatment of woman and the differing dynamics are different than what we have now and yet the correlation between the two creates a divide.
If you enjoy stories of family and what it takes to move forward, you will enjoy this work. If you enjoy a bit of history you will finds pieces of interest and charm in the characters of the 1930’s, both the challenges as well as the lifestyle.
This would be a great book for a reading group or book club with hours of dialogue available.