Whistling Women

Life went terribly wrong for Addie Bates in San Diego, and she’s been running from dark memories ever since. For fifteen years, the Sleepy Valley Nudist Colony has provided a safe haven for Addie to hide from the crime she committed. But when the residents pack up to go on exhibit at the 1935 world’s fair in San Diego, Addie returns and must face the thrilling yet terrifying prospect of reuniting with her estranged sister, Wavey.

Addie isn’t the only one interested in a reunion. When her niece, Rumor, discovers she has an aunt, Rumor is determined to bring her family together. But it’s not so easy when the women are forced to confront family secrets, past and present.

Set against the backdrop of the 1935 world’s fair, Whistling Women explores the complex relationships between sisters, the sacrifices required to protect family, and the devastating consequences of a single impulsive act.

Whistling Women gives us a look into the unfortunate lives of women during The Depression. Kelly Romo illustrates how, with lack of work, people turned to alcoholism and abuse in this cruel time. Everyone seems beaten down, especially the men.

Enter the World’s Fair–the goal to bring excitement and money and relief…but instead we see the dangerous corners and peepholes and the drunks that lurk after hours. It’s an interesting contrast to the propaganda that I am sure was floating around at the time. I like this perspective–I’ve told you about my appreciation for “circus stories” before, this is a similar scene. What we think about happening in the sideshows and communities of our fairs are not what is the actuality.

I didn’t actually understand the title–Whistling Women–there was never a lightbulb moment where it connected to the story. Other than that, I enjoyed the book, for all it’s shadows. Three book dragons.


NetGalley provided this ARC for an unbiased review. Releases on November 17.


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