Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Mutual Admiration Society by Lesley Kagan

What They Say.....From the New York Times bestselling author of Whistling in the Dark comes an unforgettable novel that illuminates the sweet and brittle bonds of family, the tenderness of growing up, the heartbreak of longing for what we’ve lost, and the poignancy of finding love.
FACT: Unbeknownst to eleven-year-old Theresa “Tessie” Finley, she’s in over her head.
PROOF: After hearing a scream and catching a glimpse of a mysterious man carrying a body beneath the flickering streetlights in the cemetery behind her house, Tessie adds solving a murder case to her already quite full to-do list.
Tessie has elected herself president of the crime-stopping Mutual Admiration Society—as if dealing with her “sad madness” over the tragic drowning of her beloved father; showering tender loving care on her “sweet but weird” younger sister, Birdie; and staying on the good side of their hard-edged mother weren’t enough. With partner in crime Charlie “Cue Ball” Garfield, Tessie and Birdie will need to dodge the gossips in their 1950s blue-collar neighborhood—particularly their evil next-door neighbor, Gert Klement, who’d like nothing better than to send the sisters to “homes.” And, of course, there’s the problem of steering clear of the kidnapping murderer if they have any hope of solving the mystery of all mysteries: the mystery of life.
A rich and charming tour de force, The Mutual Admiration Society showcases Lesley Kagen’s marvelous storytelling talents. Laced with heartwarming humor and heartbreaking grief, this novel is nothing short of magical.

What I Say....Tessie is a take charge girl in the middle of a typically dysfunctional 50's family in a Catholic neighborhood - too many nosy neighbors, a disinterested mother and a missing nun.  

While Tessie is fairly certain she witnessed a kidnapping and/or murder, she also has to concentrate on the activities of daily living - she is carrying way too big of a burden since witnessing her father's death.  She is solely responsible in caring for her younger sister, who is damaged in some way, although it's never really clear what her diagnosis is - back then they were just considered "touched" and either taken care of by their families, or sent away to homes - which is exactly what their evil neighbor Gert wants.

This was a super cute read taking you back to a different time, when neighborhoods existed and your neighbors were just part of your extended family - and childhood was a different kind of tough.

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