Good Graces: A Story of Confidences and Innocence Lost

Lesley Kagen's novel of joy, tragedy, and dark secrets is told through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl.

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Author Lesley Kagen

In 1959, growing up in middle America (Milwaukee, specifically) should have been a time of innocence for the O’Malley sisters. Sally O’ Malley, Good Graces’ precocious young narrator, struggles to make sense of the tragedies that befell her family the summer before: her father was killed in a car crash, her mother was hospitalized, she manage to escape a murderer/molester. Still, she and her sister, the obstinate and impulsive Troo, enjoy their community and family even though it’s obvious the events of the previous summer are never far from either girls’ thoughts.

In Good Graces (the sequel to Whistling In the Dark, the novel in which the tragic events took place), the mix of light and dark is rendered with honesty, wit, and savvy, which is surprising when you consider the story is being told through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl. This is author Lesley Kagen’s greatest strength, and it seems, her greatest joy in creating these characters.  In this sequel, these girls again have much to deal with: a mysterious cat burglar, the disappearance of an orphan, and the news that Greasy Al, the molester, has escaped from jail.

“I’m often asked if it’s difficult to tell a story through the eyes of a young narrator,” Kagen says. “Yes and no. There are some restraints. The language of children is less developed and their perceptions are immature. Conversely, connecting with their hearts is a breeze. Writing in the voice of a child gives me the chance to connect with a reader without the armor of adulthood getting in the way.”

There are joyful moments but not much sweetness and light in Good Graces: even in the end, the sisters hold on to a dark secret they have no intention of revealing to anyone. Perhaps in Kagen’s next phase of the O’Malley saga (if there is one) the girls will be forced to reveal what they’ve done and face the consequences.

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Mindy Peterman is a freelance writer whose focus is on television, movies and pop culture. She has written over one hundred articles for the award winning Blogcritics.org website and has conducted interviews with producer Peter Asher, psychic-medium John Edward, Greg Grunberg and Bob Guiney from Band…

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